HUNDREDS of residents have now signed a petition calling for the return of overnight street lighting.
Nearly 250 people have added their names to the Re-light Oswestry Post Midnight campaign after Shropshire Council introduced part night lighting across the county as a cost-cutting measure and to reduce the level of harmful carbon dioxide emissions.
But the new system, which sees lights switched off at about midnight before coming back on at about 5.30am until dawn, has clearly ignited concerns among those living in Oswestry where the changes came into effect earlier this year.
The petition’s author believes the authority is “cutting corners in their budget” and “risking the safety of citizens”.
In response, Robert Duncan said: “How could the council put people in danger to save money, only an insane person would think up something as daft as that.”
Mayor of Oswestry John Gareth Jones revealed some residents had concerns about cars being damaged on driveways and an increase in drug dealing.
“Initially I was in favour (of turning the lights out) but in hindsight I think we should have gone for every other one, that might be a happy medium.
“There are some hot spots like Coney Green which need to be lit from the safety aspect.”
Oswestry town councillor Duncan Kerr has called for a re-think on the scheme and claimed now was a “good time to do it”.
“We need to look again at the areas where people are feeling vulnerable at night. We have to be mindful about money saving but this won’t work everywhere, it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ thing.”
Cllr Rebecca Evans claimed a number of her elderly neighbours now felt like they were living under a curfew because they were too nervous to go out when the lights were off.
“It’s had an impact on people's freedom," she said.
"I even had a 21-year-old lad tell me he stayed on the phone to a friend while walking home one night because he felt jittery.”
However, Shropshire Council assured the public the decision was taken following detailed discussion between Shropshire Council, police and town and parish councils.
Claire Wild, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Evidence from other parts of the country showed that crime often decreased in areas where lights were converted to part night lighting, and indeed that has been the case here in Shropshire.
“A partnership group of council officers and the police are regularly checking crime statistics and comparing them to where lights are being converted and there has been no evidence to suggest that public safety is being affected,” she added.