A FLASH of genius or not such a bright idea...?

Drivers in south Essex could soon become guinea pigs for a controversial new scheme – switching traffic lights off at night.

MP John Baron feels pulling the plug in the early hours, when traffic is scarce, would save motorists time, as well as tens of thousands of pounds a year in energy costs.

The Tory MP has been campaigning for years to get the Government to pilot the idea.

So far ministers have refused, however speaking in Parliament Mr Baron suggested his constituency of Basildon and Billericay be used as the test ground.

He asked transport minister Norman Baker MP: “Will he consider the merits of authorising traffic signals to display only flashing amber aspects in the early hours of the morning to reduce journey times?

“Other countries operate this system, and yet the Government’s written response states somewhat condescendingly the British motorist would find this confusing.

“Would the minister not consider a pilot scheme, perhaps in my constituency, for such a system would speed journeys and reduce emissions?”

However, Mr Baker hinted it would be too difficult for the Ggovernment to change traffic regulations and enable the scheme to go forward.

Mr Baron stressed: “Too often time is wasted at traffic lights.

“Replacing them with a slow, flashing amber to warn motorists to proceed with caution would not only reduce pollution but also speed journeys.”

Mr Baron says he will compile a petition on the matter.

He isn’t the only one pushing for the change. Many motoring firms are in favour and there’s even a Switch off Traffic Lights at Night campaign on Facebook.