STREET lights will not be turned off overnight in Southend, a leading councillor has insisted after numerous safety concerns were raised.

Earlier this week, Paul Collins, councillor responsible for inward investment, warned Southend Council could be bankrupt within three years without cutbacks, adding he was unable to rule out turning of street lights.

The announcement sparked concern among councillors and residents, particularly in the wake of two teenagers being attacked in the early hours of Tuesday morning in York Road.

Yesterday, Mr Collins insisted the lights would not be turned off. He said: “We have decided and have agreed we will not turn off street lights in residential and commercial areas.

"We have considered it and I was asked a question and said we had not made any decision, but now one has been made.

“While I have the authority I can guarantee we will not be turning off the lights. Having reflected on this we have taken the decision it’s not going to happen.

“I couldn’t commit at the time in the meeting, but now I can commit to this.” Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal, took to Twitter to raise his fears, before welcoming the news.

He tweeted: “I am grateful to Paul Collins, the relevant cabinet member at Southend Council, for now having ruled out switching off street lights at night as a cost saving measure. This is the right decision for residents, and I will continue to oppose any future proposals of this nature.”

Tony Cox leader of the Southend Tories said: “He told me nothing was in or out, it’s almost making up policy on the hoof. We asked the question and now ask how are they going to make the savings.

“I am glad he U-turned after the Tory pressure and I think residents will be pleased too.”

On Monday Mr Collins described the situation as “bleak” as he discussed a finance report for 2022/23 during a place scrutiny committee meeting on Monday. Council bosses have blamed large amounts of the deficit on rising inflation and soaring bills.