CASTLE Point Council’s Tory group is considering paying County Hall to turn the borough’s street lights back on.

Conservative councillors have floated the idea of offering Essex County Council the amount it expects to save locally with its controversial midnight to 5am switch-off.

The turn-off has sparked widespread public anger, with 1,000 people signing a petition calling for Castle Point’s lights to go back on.

County Hall expects to save £64,000 a year by turning off lights in the borough, £59,000 in the Rochford district and £222,000 in the borough of Basildon.

Tory Castle Point councillors are considering dipping into financial reserves to get the lights back on.

Bill Sharp, councillor for St James’ ward, said: “We have had so many complaints about the lights going out, so we’re asking exactly how much, as a borough council, can we offer to pay. I think it’s about £64,000.

“We know it is not our remit, but it is our responsibility to do what residents want. If we need to spend money to improve the safety of residents then we are willing to do that.

“We already have a lot of support on Facebook and Twitter from residents.”

Mr Sharp said the group was also considering possible legal action against the county council over the issue.

Tory deputy council leader Jeffrey Stanley, who is also councillor responsible for corporate policy, resources and performance, said: “Councillors are clearly upset Essex County Council has decided to turn off the street lights.

The system doesn’t appear to be working well.

“As a Conservative group, we are seeing if there is anything we can do, locally, to encourage the county council to turn the lights back on.

“A lot of figures are being banded about, but we are going to find out if we have the power to pay for it. We hope it would be an incentive for the county council to look at other solutions, such as low-energy lighting.

“The main thing is we are determined to exert pressure on the council so we get lights back on.”

Fellow Conservative Andrew Sheldon said he would be be approaching the county council’s Tory leader, and asking Castle Point officials to prepare a report on the options.

Before the lights went out in January 12, Castle Point campaigners presented a petition to County Hall objecting to the plans.

Since then, only key junctions and town centres have been lit after midnight.