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PARTS of Melksham could be plunged into darkness this month as street lights are being turned off between midnight and 05.30am each night as part of Wiltshire Council’s latest cuts.
It is hoped that the change will save energy, reduce the council’s carbon emissions, and shrink the current £1,200,000 annual cost of lighting Wiltshire’s streets at night.
Melksham is part of the first phase, which as of Wednesday 1st July, will also see lights turned off in Westbury, Salisbury, Laverstock, and Wilton.
A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “Rising energy costs, carbon tax and budget restraints make it necessary to change the way we light our streets. These proposals could see us save more than £300,000 at current energy prices. Even with moderate energy cost increases of 3% annually the proposals would be expected to save more than £12 million over 25 years.
“We consulted some months ago about turning some of our 40,000 street lights off on minor roads between midnight and 5:30am to save energy, reduce CO2 emissions as well as help reduce the current £1.2m cost of street lighting.
“A review of the scheme will be undertaken after six months to determine whether further changes are necessary, and the views of the town and parish councils will be sought.”
Street lighting will be changed across the town according to need – lights will remain on on major roads, but smaller streets may see lights dimmed or turned off completely during the early hours. Most residential areas will retain a small number of fully working lights.
For example lights will remain on full intensity along Bath Road and High Street, but will be dimmed along Lowbourne and many turned off completely in smaller roads in the Forest area and housing estates across the town.
The Wiltshire Council spokesperson continued, “Lights at junctions, pedestrian crossings and where required for safety will remain on all night. Lighting where there are CCTV systems, in the town centre, and in areas where crime is a problem will remain on and at normal lighting levels.
“The street lights are controlled remotely and we can change the timing and their intensity instantly so we can support community events and respond to security issues.
“Since bringing in similar changes in Trowbridge we have received feedback from people pleased to see the changes, while others have shared their concerns. We are listening to people’s comments and where there are safety issues we have put lights back on.”
August and September will see other major towns across Wiltshire drafted into the scheme, including Corsham, Chippenham, Calne, Devizes, Bradford on Avon, and Marlborough.
To see a map of how streetlighting will change near you, search ‘street lights’ on www.wiltshire.gov.uk.