LET THERE BE LIGHT: City Council hears plea of students

City Council in lightbulb moment

Cambridge council Public Safety streetlights welfare

Responding to student pleas, Cambridge City Council has offered to step in and pay for the lights that our County Council has said it will be turning off.

After budget cuts, the County Council insisted it had no other option but to turn off streetlights in major student thoroughfares between midnight and 6.00 am.

But today the leader of the Cambridge City Council, Lewis Herbert, stepped in to say that this issue directly affected “public safety”. He said that the necessity for street lighting is “overwhelming … no matter what the time”.

“People should be safe in the knowledge that the lights will stay on.”

County council: "not so bright."

County council: “Not so bright.”

The City Council, also hard pushed for funds, has told the county clearly that “this is the only 100% county funded service we are willing to contribute to”.

Maintaining street lighting beyond 2.00 am will cost roughly “50p per resident per year” – a price the city council is willing to pay on behalf of Cambridge residents.

County Council members said that “in an ideal world” they would not turn off the lights, but the government’s demand that Cambridgeshire council find an extra “5 million on top of the 41 million we have already had to save for 2015/16” has resulted in such measures.

Earlier this December, Daniel Zeichner, Cambridge’s MP, said that residents of Cambridge are being made to “pay the price by the county council for George Osborne’s raid on the county’s finances”.

He said that Cambridge is a “world-class city” and that residents are “rightly outraged” to be left “fumbling in the dark” during the late hours of the evening or early hours of the morning.

Scary enough even with streetlights

Scary enough even with the streetlights on.

Plans to scrap street lighting have also been a contentious issue amongst the student body at Cambridge, with numerous petitions and campaigns being set up to increase the number of street lamps in the less well-lit areas of the city.

Trinity College’s Women’s Officer, who launched a petition on this issue, said:  “I am extremely grateful to the city council who have proposed to fund the lighting costs. They are taking into account the voice and the welfare of Cambridge’s citizens, providing fundamental amenities. Lighting is key to ensuring that people feel and are safe; taking it away promotes an unsafe environment and also deters people from freely move around the city.”

The threatened switch-off this year came after a separate campaign in 2014 by Francesca Ebel to increase lighting in the city. She argued that “we have a real problem here in Cambridge” and said that “lights are the first step” in reassuring residents of their safety.

For many, keeping the lights on throughout the night is the bare minimum required for making Cambridge residents feel safe. It is, nonetheless, a measure for which many are grateful.