March 11, 2020 9.41 am This story is over 18 months old

Parish councils are “more representative than social media”

Lincolnshire council decided to turn off more than half of its 68,000 street lights

The county council’s highways chief has said parish councils are “more representative of people’s opinions” over street lighting than social media.

Residents on sites such as Facebook and Twitter commented that they felt their views on street lighting were being ignored after Lincolnshire County Councillor Richard Davies, executive portfolio for highways, said people were “not particularly concerned” about the part-night lights switch-off.

Just one parish council, Pinchbeck, has paid to switch four of its lights back on following the introduction of new rules in February 2019.

In response to Councillor Davies’ comments, several residents said on social media that they were concerned and that either parish councils didn’t ask or had not taken their views on board.

Others argued that the £150-300 cost could put councils off.

They reiterated concerns over health and safety and an increase in crime levels.

Councillor Davies said: “I think parish councils are more representative of people’s opinions than social media, and the reality is people aren’t that concerned. It doesn’t fill my postbag with concerns compared to other things.”

He said the main concerns people approached him about included road safety, potholes, grass cutting, weeding and a desire for more sustainable travel.

“I don’t deny that for some people it is a concern but I think the reality is it’s part of our responsibility as a local authority to represent the real reflected views of people, but also to balance all the various cost pressures we have, from looking after the elderly to safeguarding children through to filling potholes.

“As a result of that, we have to sometimes make difficult decisions. And it does mean that we can’t do everything everybody would like us to do.”

He said the scheme had been advertised extensively through letter drops, social media and local  councillors.

The council has had enquiries from Gainsborough, Louth, Metheringham, West Pinchbeck, Skegness, Deeping St James.

It said the changes have reduced carbon emissions by 6,200 metric tonnes a year and saved £2.5 million in annual electricity costs.

This year, the authority expects to spend £1.95 million on street lights – before the part-night switch-off it would have cost £4.5 million.

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