Streetlights illuminate Southeastern Road in Ramsgate

Night lighting is to be finally switched back on in Ramsgate and across the isle

Streetlights in Ramsgate – and the rest of the isle -will be turned back on at night.

This story first appeared on the KentLive website on 10th November 2016.

Following calls from Ramsgate councillor Karen Constantine and trade union GMB Southern Region it has now been confirmed that work to convert the lights to LED will begin within weeks.

Cllr Constantine contacted KCC several times after becoming concerned at a rise in sexual and violent crimes in the town which she believes were aided by the absence of lighting.

There has also be a sustained campaign by Broadstairs residents and councillors, including a Thanet-wide petition against the switch off decision in 2013.

KCC started carrying out a county-wide scheme in 2013 to switch off 70,000 streetlights between midnight and 5.30am to save £1 million a year, cut carbon emissions by 5,000 tonnes annually and reduce light pollution.

It started to switch off 124 of Thanet’s lights on May 19, 2014, after rolling out the scheme in Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks.

However, in February of this year at a meeting of the council’s environment and transport cabinet committee, members voted for all-night lighting to return after a consultation on streetlights had more than 3,700 responses with 63 per cent of people saying they wanted the lights back.

Work to convert the county’s 118,000 streetlights to LED began in residential areas of Kent in March, but Thanet was at the back of the queue for the 38 month residential project with work scheduled to take place between this month and next May.

It has now been confirmed that Ramsgate will have night lighting returned from December 5.

Picture of Karen Constantine

Cllr Constantine said: “GMB welcome the decision by Kent County Council to turn back on the street lights in Ramsgate in the next 3 weeks after a period of two years where they were turned off to save money. In recent weeks there have been a number of sexual attacks and a rape in Ramsgate in what would ordinarily have been well lit streets.

“After further investigation it seems no-one within the county council actually knew which lights were on or off and that Ramsgate would be among the last county towns to be retro fitted with LED’s and until then the streets would remain in darkness.

“Ramsgate has an appalling record in securing convictions on rape and sexual assault charges. That the lights were off throughout the night should never have happened as it arguably created more risk. Apart from this being ‘common sense’ there was a failure to conduct an ‘equality impact assessment.'”

KCC say converting the county’s 118,000 street lights to LED will save Kent taxpayers up to £5.2 million a year, once installed.

The draft programme earmarked work for Thanet, Swale and Canterbury as the last of the schedule – taking place from this month and being completed by May 2017.

The full LED programme is due for completion in 2018.

Prior to LED lighting, the bill for Kent’s street lights and lit signs was nearly £9.5 million a year in maintenance, electricity costs and the associated carbon tax.

The £40 million project has been partly funded by a £22 million interest-free loan from SALIX, a government organisation, funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It will pay for itself within eight years.

KCC Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport Matthew Balfour said: “By embracing LED lighting in one of the largest projects of its kind in the United Kingdom, we can make significant savings to our electricity bill and cut our carbon footprint.

“We have been prioritising residential areas since we started the scheme in March.

“This is due to be completed next year and we will then be moving on to tackling town centres, and the main roads.”
Read the original post at at KentLive News