Walking home from Arena in darkness? That’s what we as students could face…
Devon County Council plans to either dim or entirely switch off street lights between 00:30 and 5:30- the peak times of when vulnerable students return home after a night out.
The majority of the lights to be affected would be in residential areas, rather than the main city centre.
Whilst this would help maintain the safety of students whilst in town, it increases their risk on their journey home.
The scheme has received a lot of controversy and many complaints from the student body.
The University of Exeter Students’ Guild has argued that any money saved by the scheme would come at a huge cost to student safety.
The scheme would cost £1.7 million to implement, but would than save the council approximately £280,000 per year and reduce carbon emissions by 1,600 tonnes. The savings would cancel out the initial spend in six years.
Currently the county council has over 72,000 street lights which cost £3.4m and produce nearly 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Consultations with the police, city council and local communities are to be held by the Conservative led authority. This comes at a time where the Conservative/Lib-Dem Coalition have frequently been told they are “out of touch” with real life and real people.
If approved the scheme will begin in autumn, just as darkness begins to arrive earlier and many first years will be away from home for the first time.
The scheme is already used in Exmouth, Newton Abbot and Bideford.
Students at Exeter University are starting an official campaign against the scheme. A large amount of support is already behind the campaign, potentially due to the recent increase in reports of student safety being breached.
Lauren Stansfield, a second year law student had this to say on the matter:
“Walking home in pitch black makes you vulnerable and will not be a pleasant experience. This is a particular problem after recent attacks in the early hours. I'm all for saving money and electricity but not if it puts anyone at risk. I work at a local pub, often until late and so need to be able to get home safely. Also it is not only students making noise late at night; I’ve found many of the locals to be just as bad, if not worse (and it's not always the young ones either). Whether or not people are making noise/drinking should have nothing to do with it, our priority should be safety.”
At the Drop we're certainly not impressed by this. Check back on the Drop over the next few days to read our views!