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Keep the Lights on

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Dear County Council, City Council, University of Cambridge and the Colleges surrounding Garret Hostel Lane,

The Cambridgeshire County Council have planned to turn off streetlights from midnight to 6am on various public pathways in Cambridge starting from the 1st of April 2016, one main area being targeted is the densely student-populated area of Garret Hostel Lane, Grange Road and Trinity Lane.

The reasoning behind darkening important walkways for the public is to save money. The switching off of such streetlights has been estimated to save around £270,000 for the council, a figure that does not seem worthwhile when crime might increase, and the public’s perception of safety diminishes. In a survey created by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, it was recorded that 83% of women felt unsafe in unlit areas; the data also shows that younger age groups perceive there to be a greater danger in unlit areas. Considering that Garret Hostel Lane, Grange Road  and Trinity Lane are very frequently used by students during the critical time window as they are the only public pathway over the Cam between Bridge and Silver Street which are half a mile apart, it seems inconsiderate to turn these streetlights off: University is an opportunity to excel and educate, but if the way back to your accommodation, or to go to the library brings both fear and a greater risk of attack, student’s quality of life reduces and inevitably their grades are compromised.

Understandably, the Cambridgeshire County Council has to make cuts to funding somewhere, but street lighting is a vital part of ensuring a safe environment, free from physical attacks or accidents (such as falling into the River).

The planning for the switch off has come under scrutiny from Councilors who have spoken against the darkness; Cllr Amanda Taylor believed that turning the streetlights off is “asking for trouble particularly in areas where we have lots of people”. Cllr Martin Smart understands that they council “need to save money but the idea of turning off the streetlights in Cambridge…it’s not some small hamlet.” Cllr Bick brought the attention back to safety adding, “It's only a year ago that we had incidents, attacks and assaults on Jesus Green when our lights weren't working.”

Lighting on Garret Hostel Lane, Trinity Lane and Burrell's walk should remain bright, continuing on in assisting people travelling to work, to home, to University. It is the burden of these people to bear, rather than the Cambridgeshire Council, if such plans go ahead. The risk of danger will be increased drastically if this ‘money-saving’ scheme actualizes, creating what could and has been preventable crime, fear, and damage to a person’s life.

We all need to work together to prevent lights from going off and putting citizens in danger.

The signatories.

References:

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Cambridge-streetlights-switch-lights-going-live/story-26901147-detail/story.html

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Planned-switch-Cambridge-streetlights-risks/story-26297582-detail/story.html

http://www.suzylamplugh.org/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/Perceptions-of-Safety-survey-FINAL1.pdf



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