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Ben Loryman


Ben Loryman is a Lincolnshire hospital doctor. He was the Green Party candidate in the 2017 General Election for Lincoln.

Many local people are unhappy about Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to turn off the street lights overnight. Newly elected city councillor Lucinda Preston described one local resident in tears because she has to go to work in the dark, and the Labour group on the county council has opposed the decision.

However, Martin Hill, the Conservative council leader, pointed out they have saved £1.7 million since the lights were turned out and said there was no chance of them coming back on.

There is a consultation that will run until the January 5, 2018, and local people are invited to have their say.

This is an opportunity to present an alternative to the ‘on/off’ debate.

Street lights consume 40% of the energy in cities and efficiencies here have a role in reducing our carbon footprint.

However, intelligent street lighting offers an alternative to pitch darkness in areas where some illumination might be needed.

Lincolnshire County Council is gradually rolling out LED (light-emitting diode) lights to save energy and carbon.

However, smart cities are networking LED lighting to give much better control over street lighting.

Networked LED street lights enable the different parts of urban areas — city centres, main roads, residential streets and parks — to be lit according to need.

Computer software specifies which lights switch on, at what times and to what level of intensity.

Options include motion sensors and data gathering on the street environment such as noise and traffic. They also save on operation costs.

Standard street lights last around five years and faults are either reported by members of the public or found through periodic checks.

Networked LED lights last up to 20 years and faults can be identified on the computer immediately.

The technology is available for creating more pleasant and energy-efficient living places of which smart street lighting is just one aspect.

It is however important to use warm white light and avoid blue rich light which is bad for wildlife and human health.

It would be a welcome move if Lincoln if explored the opportunities for becoming a smart city, starting with trials of smart lighting.

Other cities such as Norwich and Glasgow have already taken this step. It would be great to see Lincoln joining them at the cutting edge.

One area where intelligent street lighting might have a role is in crime prevention.

There is good evidence that introducing street lights has reduced crime in some parts of the UK, and intelligent street lights would give us the opportunity to leave the lights on where necessary.

It was good to hear that Lincolnshire Police have found that burglary, car crime and crimes against the person have fallen in areas where the lights have been turned out.

However, overall crime, particularly criminal damage has increased. It would have been reassuring if they found there was no difference in the increase between areas that remained lit and those that were plunged into darkness, but this isn’t what their data demonstrates. If they have investigated this, it would be fascinating to see their results.

It is good that Lincolnshire County Council are giving local people an opportunity to have their say on the future of street lighting in the county.

We would like them to try out intelligent street lighting, particularly in areas with relatively high crime rates.

We think this this would give the best compromise between energy efficiency and providing the public with the reassurance that they deserve.

This column was written together with Denise Carlo, a Green Party councillor on Norwich City Council.

Ben Loryman is a Lincolnshire hospital doctor. He was the Green Party candidate in the 2017 General Election for Lincoln.

Unfortunately, many people who buy a house are unaware of potential flood risks. When the heavens open, rivers burst their banks, and the waters are flowing through their homes, this is a personal catastrophe.

On the August 9 this year, many households in Immingham were submerged below two inches of water after heavy rains overwhelmed drains and gullies – one local resident commented that they had had no contact from their local council.

This is unacceptable; councils have a duty to respond in emergencies and a responsibility to take measures to ensure that these events don’t happen again in the future.

City of Lincoln Council first proposed developing the Western Growth Corridor (WGC) in 2006.

Employees at the Witham Internal Drainage Board refer to the area of the proposed WGC as ‘the plug hole of Lincoln’.

Many of the houses in the original plan were intended for areas that are a functional flood plain.

Building anything other than waterproof buildings and essential infrastructure in these areas is obviously a mistake. The plans contain ponds intended to store floodwater, but these won’t prevent flooding if the Fossdyke and the Witham burst their banks.

The original plans went on hold, and Taylor Wimpey withdrew from the project in January 2016. The WGC was revived as part of the Central Lincolnshire Plan later that year.

We objected to building in areas at risk of flooding at the consultation events, but the plan was subsequently adopted.

However, the new proposals are not proposing to build on the functional flood plain, which is a relief.

Nevertheless, the area intended for houses is classified as ‘flood risk zone 3a’. This means that the risk of flooding is at least 1% per year. The Environment Agency advises against the construction of vulnerable buildings, like houses, in these areas.

This should only be contemplated if there are no alternative sites available. The Central Lincolnshire Plan identifies several other areas inside the Lincoln Eastern Bypass, and brownfield sites around the city, which are far less likely to flood and we suggest these should be developed in preference.

If there is no practical alternative, there must be detailed flood risk assessment showing that the proposals are safe. This document should be available for scrutiny in the public domain.

I have emailed the City of Lincoln Council but they have declined to provide it, so far.

I will see Karen Lee MP on the August 30, and attend the WCG consultation meeting about the flooding and environmental issues on September 6.

We would like them to provide this document, together with any ecological assessments, and advice from the Environment Agency and the Witham Internal Drainage Board, prior to this meeting.

The proposals include plans to raise the houses on the WGC by one metre above the existing ground level. Paul Cobbing, the CEO of Flood Forum, says this can be effective – however, he poses the following questions:

  • Does the modelling show that one metre is enough to protect the houses?
  • Will the roads be raised by one metre, or will the area become an island when it floods?
  • If so, will the floodwater be obstructed from reaching the functional flood plain? Where will the water go then? It is important not to create a problem we cannot fix afterwards.
  • Will the drainage and sewerage systems be able to withstand exceptional (not just average) flows?

Every passing year seems to be the hottest on record, showing that climate change is well underway. Most extra heat goes into the seas, driving violent storms and torrential rains that are overwhelming flood defences worldwide.

In light of this, we would like to ask City of Lincoln Council to convince us all, in the public domain, that they are doing the right thing?

Ben Loryman is a Lincolnshire hospital doctor. He was the Green Party candidate in the 2017 General Election for Lincoln.