PLANS to switch off Exeter's street lighting during the night are to go out to public consultation in May next year.
The timing of the consultation was revealed at a meeting of the Exeter Board when members of University of Exeter's Student Guild appealed for the proposed lighting changes not to go ahead in residential areas.
The students told the board, which is made up of Exeter's nine county councillors and five of its city councillors, that there was huge opposition among students to the changes.
Grace Hopper, the guild's vice-president for welfare and community, told the Echo: "From the moment we heard about the council's plans to switch off Exeter's streetlights at night, we knew that there would be great opposition. And there has been: the Save Our Streetlights (SOS) campaign's petition against the switch off has so far collected over 2,500 signatures from both students, staff, and local residents' associations.
"Having spoken to many of those who signed the petition, there is a clear feeling of unease towards the proposed plans, and many concerns about the effect the switch off will have on the wider community.
"The campaign has already attracted the support of local bars, nightclubs, landlords, as well as the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and MP Ben Bradshaw."
Ms Hopper added: "We look forward to hearing more from Devon County Council on their plans for future consultations, as so far we feel there has not been enough.
"This is an extremely important issue for students and the local community, and in the coming months it will continue to be our number one priority to ensure that the 2,500 people who have so far spoken are not ignored by the county council, but listened to."
Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, chair of both the Board and Exeter and Devon's joint highways committee, assured the meeting that part-night lighting would not go ahead without proper consultation.
This has been welcomed by Richard Westlake, county councillor for Newtown and Polsloe, who said: "I welcome Cllr Leadbetter's assurances on this that there will be full consultation before anything is done."
Fellow board member Yolonda Henson, city councillor for Polsloe, said: "I am deeply concerned and will continue to fight this."
A spokesman for the county council said that detailed plans for the consultation are yet to be made. He said: "As in other communities in Devon we will be working with the police and local councillors on the proposals.
"We also want to hear what people think, especially the Students' Guild and the hospital for example, about the proposals. "While part-night lighting is being introduced in residential areas across Exeter, lighting in areas of high night-time activity, such as the city centre, main roads and main walking routes will keep their street lights on. "We will want people's opinions on which streets or areas they feel should be left on."