Midnight blackout causes safety fears for residents

W07312H14   Shift worker, Harry Singh-Virk, comes home from work in pitch-darkness
W07312H14 Shift worker, Harry Singh-Virk, comes home from work in pitch-darkness

THE decision to switch off thousands of street lights across Adur at midnight has sparked fears among residents of a rise in crime.

The money-saving move by West Sussex County Council has left hundreds of homes in pitch darkness at a time when many are still heading home.

Harry and Emily Singh Virk live in North Farm Road, Lancing, and both work shifts, so often arrive home in the small hours.

“Somtimes I finish at one or two in the morning,” Mr Sing Virk said.

“It’s pitch dark and I can hardly see anything at all.”

Mr Sing Virk said he was concerned for his safety and that of his wife, who often leaves for work at two or three in the morning, and believes the lights should stay on all night to prevent crime.

“People can damage cars and steal from houses, and no one can see them,” he said.

More Lancing and Sompting residents took to social media to say the blackout was a step too far.

‘Spooky’, ‘unnerving’, ‘scary’ and ‘dangerous’ were among the words used to describe the pitch-black roads in the early hours.

Michelle Jackson commented on Facebook: “Its horrible. I used to babysit for friends up the road and walk home. I wont walk when it’s pitch black.”

Rebecca Cowen agreed that midnight was too early to be switching off the lights.

“What’s the point in installing new street lights to make places better-lit if they are going to turn them off when it’s night time?” she asked.

Joy Terry said: “I never thought that at my age I’d be watching the clock if I go out, so I’ll be home before the lights go out.”

However, some residents on roads where the lights still stay on all night have complained they are too bright.

“I wish they went off or got dimmed in our road,” said Bean Miller on Facebook.

“They are so bright outside my daughter’s bedroom it wakes her up, even with blackout curtains.”

Part-night lighting has been in operation in many of the residential roads in West Sussex since the 1970s.

A county-council spokesman said the aim was to for most residential areas to be part-lit, with town centres and main roads being lit all night.

The spokesman said there had been no evidence that part-night lighting had led to increased crime and that some studies had actually shown an overall reduction in night-time crime in areas that had made the switch.