Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Thousands query lights switch off

Street light (library picture)
Thousands of lights were switched off in Powys

Nearly 3,000 people have contacted Powys council over a controversial scheme to switch off thousands of street lights.

The local authority said it received 2,848 inquiries between 1 September and 31 December, but it is uncertain whether they were all complaints.

Some lights have now been turned back on at certain times following a review.

Elsewhere, Torfaen council and Ceredigion council are planning on switching off some of their lamps.

Rocketing energy costs forced officials in Powys to turn off more than half of the council's 14,000 lights to save 225,000 last year, but this did not stop communities across the county criticising the move.

A council spokesman said: "The council received 2,848 calls regarding street lights between September 1 and December 31, 2008.


"We can't say whether they are all complaints or not, we have taken a number of calls asking for information about the process, review etc."

Politicians have been inundated with complaints.

In north Powys, a spokesman for Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik and AM Mick Bates said they had received 100 complaints so far from disgruntled residents.

In the south of the county, a spokeswoman for Brecon and Radnorshire AM Kirsty Williams said she had received about 40 letters of complaint, some phone calls and a few people had even approached her in the street.

Ms Williams said: "I have been inundated with complaints about the street lighting and am trying to work with council to find solutions to turning as many necessary lights back on as possible."

Last month, 60-year-old care worker Mike Atherton, from Llangynog, near Llanfyllin, paid nearly 300 out of his own pocket to switch 16 lights back on.

Meanwhile, the council's chief executive Mark Kerr asked his staff to turn off office Christmas tree lights during the festive period to avoid upsetting the public.

In an e-mail, Mr Kerr said staff should not "needlessly exacerbate already strong feelings", and said tree lights were only to be powered by batteries.

In Torfaen, a council spokesman said a public consultation period over its plans to turn off up to half of its 13,344 street lights would end on 31 January.

He said results for and against the proposal were currently being collated.

Ceredigion council is also planning to switch off its street lights between midnight and 0500 GMT.

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