Council saves £500,000 by adjusting street lighting in Leicestershire
Leicestershire County Council has saved more than £500,000 in less than three years, simply by switching off or dimming street lights.
Officials from the council said the authority had vastly reduced the amount it spends on its energy bills and pays in carbon taxes.
A programme of changes for the 65,000 street lights in Leicestershire began in March 2010.
Since then, 800 lamps on larger roads have been turned off completely, while 20,000 have been adjusted to switch off between midnight and 5.30am.
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The council also intends to dim 2,000 street lights to two-fifths of their original brightness outside peak driving times.
The council said the measures had resulted in savings of £506,000.
Peter Hoskings, County Hall's street lighting project manager, said there would be a continuing saving of nearly £400,000 a year from this point on, increasing as more lights are adjusted.
"We are very pleased with how it has been going and the money it has saved, and the reduction in carbon emissions," he said.
"That will rise as we continue to roll out the programme." The idea of turning off or dimming lights was originally met with concerns that it would increase crime levels and accident rates.
However, Mr Hoskings said annual reviews of statistics in affected areas showed early fears were not justified.
"There are some people who will never believe you when you tell them crime rates have not risen and the number of accidents have not gone up," he said. "But that's what the numbers say.
"The vast majority of residents say they are happy that the lights are not burning away through the night and recognise that is a much better saving than, say, cutting social services or meals and wheels." All lamp posts switched off are kept in place for three years, should a decision be made to turn them back on, but Mr Hoskings said very few had been reinstated.
"You can probably count them on the fingers of two hands," he said.
"There are usually very specific circumstances in which that will happen.
"We are now getting very close to that three-year period where they will be removed."
Some of the major roads where lights have been turned off are the A50, the B4144 to Croft and the A6 between Loughborough and Hathern, and also between Quorn and the One Ash Roundabout.
The lights around the Fosse Park shopping centre are among those that have been dimmed.
However, district councillor Leon Spence said people were concerned after some street lights in Whitwick and Thringstone were turned out in the autumn.
He said: "As far as they were concerned, the lights in Thringstone just didn't come on one evening. They were livid about that.
"I'm also not sure it is safe to turn off lights at junctions."
Coun Spence has also questioned the £100,000 cost of the lights adjustments in Whitwick, but County Hall insists the scheme will recoup its costs over time.