PARTS of Rayleigh will be plunged into darkness for five hours every night from January 26, as Essex County Council continues its plan to switch off street lights.

Lights across the district will be turned off from midnight until 5am as the county council tries to save money, and reduce its carbon footprint.

Rayleigh will see residential areas around Hockley Road, High Road and High Street have the lights turned off, but parts of Helena Road, Love Lane and Daws Heath Road will remain illuminated.

The switch-offs appear to be situated predominantly south of the railway line in Rayleigh, with the area around Mill Hall Arts Centre in Rayleigh town centre escaping the scheme.

Ian Ward, chairman of Rayleigh Town Council, said: “We will consider the whole proposal under review.

“We have been told the trials elsewhere have been positive, but if this plan does lead to an increase in crime we will have to act quickly.”

The county council scheme was trialled in Maldon and Uttlesford, saving 20 per centof the energy bill – approximately £70,000 – and has since been rolled out.

It is claimed the trial sawno increase in recorded crime or road collisions, but the Echo reported earlier in January of a spate of garage raids in Colchester being blamed on the switch-off.

Keith Hudson, Rochford councillor responsible for planning, said: “The maps are extremely complicated.

“We will need to thoroughly inspect them to see if they conform to our original representations.”

The county council blamed a delay in publishing the maps on slow roll-out in other areas, and not all residents are happy with the plans.

Brian Carlton, from the Hullbridge action group, said: “There are a number of roads that, if they are not lit, could be hazardous.

“If the council claims this is going to save it money, why is it not offering us a rebate on our council tax?”

Detail of the switch-offs can be found at www.essexhigh Roads/Roads-andPavements /Street-lighting/Partnightlighting/ Rochford