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Exeter University Students refuse to be ignored on street lights issue

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

By Anne Byrne

  • Cllr Leadbetter

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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.

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"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."

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  • nick113  |  December 06 2012, 5:30PM

    @Stubeedoo. You mean that Exeter was safer in the old days, when the lights were turned out around midnight? Exactly, there is no link between street lighting and crime. It is very disappointing to see students fail to support clear energy saving measures.

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  • stubeedoo  |  December 06 2012, 1:28PM

    Having had a hoody on a bike try and get in the driver side door of my car at 6pm the other week by the Kwik Fit/Jury's Inn crossroads, I have since discovered that such crimes are on the increase in Exeter. Turning off the lights at night in my view is dangerous. It will give these vermin even more opportunity to prey on innocent victims. Exeter is not as safe as it used to be. SOS

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  • Stu_Exeter  |  December 06 2012, 1:17PM

    @ CChapman By providing cycle paths etc the council is helping with personal safety and well being by making it safer to cycle and encouraging people to do so thus increasing well being, so therefore your 3rd paragraph has nullified your objection to cycling initiative and investment.

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  • Stu_Exeter  |  December 06 2012, 1:16PM

    By providing cycle paths etc the council is helping with personal safety and well being by making it safer to cycle and encouraging people to do so thus increasing well being, so therefore your 3rd paragraph has nullified your objection to cycling initiative and investment.

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  • CChapman  |  December 06 2012, 12:37PM

    Devon's Councils have spent many millions and still intend to spend many millions more on facilities for cyclists i.e cycle bridges, cycle paths etc etc - a desirable but certainly not essential investment. Yet at the same time they are trying to save money by switching off street lights which are absolutely essential for personal safety, reducing social isolation and the local economy i.e bars and restaurants may well lose business if residential street-lights are switched off and fewer people are happy to venture out at night. Why are the leisure interests of cyclists continually given priority over the needs of local employers and business, and the personal safety and well-being of Devon residents? It is essential that all street lights across the County are kept on all night. Lighting also needs to be restored on the roundabout onto the A30 from Alphington.

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