BARMY council bosses could be heading back to the dark ages – when street lights are switched off to save them some cash.
Fife council want to trial a switch-off after a warning that rising costs and carbon emissions are unsustainable.
There are also plans to introduce dimmer bulbs to save power and new white-lights which use lower wattage.
A meeting was held yesterday (Thurs) to discuss the idea, which will initially affect areas in Glenrothes, Lochgelly, Kirkcaldy and St Andrews.
And if the experiment is a success, the lights could go off or be dimmed permanently between the hours of midnight and 5am from October next year.
But angry politicians have branded the idea “daft” and say the though it may cut costs, it will contribute to a rise in crime.
Mike Scott-Hayward – an independent councillor in St Andrews – fumed: “Its political correctness gone mad because this idea will have only marginal benefits to cutting carbon emissions. But the lack of street lighting will hinder people heading home late at night in a safe manner.
“Basically, it is a totally daft idea.”
And community council chairman in Dalgety Bay Colin McPhail insists there must be other areas the council can make cuts in.
He said: “This proposal would only encourage criminals to come into urban areas and break into houses as they wouldn’t be seen in the dark. There would likely be more thefts of cars and there could be more personal attacks, especially on females.
“Surely Fife council can make cuts in other areas”
Fife have 58,000 street lights at an annual cost of £1.8 million each year – but the council is expected electricity charges to increase by up to 50% when a new contract is negotiated for October 2009.
Police in the area have also sounded a warning over the proposed plans.
A spokesperson said: “Street light plays an essential role in crime prevention, road safety and reducing the fear of crime. While we appreciate the environmental benefits of these proposals it is important the community safety implications of any reduction in street lighting are also fully considered.”
Tony Martin, chair of Fife Council’s environment, enterprise and transportation committee, said he knew the plans were controversial, but insisted they were necessary.
He said: “To be frank we are not going to meet our carbon reduction targets unless we do something about street lights.
“There are one of two proposals such as turning them down, and in some places turning them off over night, but we recognise this is highly controversial.
“We are already seeing a climate change around the world which they reckon in caused by carbon in the atmosphere and we need to do something about it.”
Willie Rennie, MP for Fife West said: “When energy is so expensive we have to look at ways of cutting costs then passing those cuts onto council tax payers. But if there is any evidence of crime levels increasing the street lighting plans should be abandoned immediately.”