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Mugging fears as street lights go off
4:20pm Thursday 2nd January 2014 in News
A CAMPAIGNER who fears Basildon will become a “mugger’s paradise” when the lights go out at night has collected a 500-strong petition opposing the move – all on her own.
June Berry, 57, has been out every day for the last month knocking on doors and collecting names around her neighbourhood in Pitsea.
Mrs Berry, who lives in Eastbrooks, soon hopes to get 1,000 names before she hands the document over to the authorities.
Essex County Council wants to switch street lights off between midnight and 5am, but the start date was delayed on November 25. A new date has not yet been set.
The switch-off has already happened in Maldon, Chelmsford, Braintree and Colchester.
Mrs Berry said: “There will be so much crime. It will be a mugger’s paradise.
“There are so many people doing shift work and coming home all through the night and they disagree with it.
“Everyone I speak to is quite surprised to hear the lights are going out and they all say it’s nonsense.
“Doesn’t the council think of people’s safety?”
Mrs Berry sometimes even goes out twice a day to canvass.
She added: “I go and knock on doors every time I get the chance and my husband tries to help on weekends. I have been out in bad weather, but it has to be done.”
John Dornan, Basildon Council’s cabinet member for environment, will send the completed petition to Rodney Bass, Essex County Council’s highways boss.
He said: “It is a fantastic effort and is just from one small area.
“It just goes to show if one person entirely working on their own can get 500 people to sign the petition, how many more people are out there feeling the same?
“A lot of people have missed the boat and didn’t realise there was a consultation. This petition carries an awful lot of weight and I will make sure Rodney Bass and council officers see this. We want a proper consultation because there will be thousands of people who don’t know about it.”
Essex County Council stood by its consultation which was carried out last September saying residents were given the chance to give their comments via their local councillors.
A spokeswoman said it would consider submitted petitions which raised new concerns.
She added: “We can assure residents that implementing part night lighting was not a decision that has been taken lightly.
“The scheme will deliver significant reductions to our energy consumption and related expenditure.”
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