Shining a Light on Safety: The Debate Over Street Lighting in Lincoln
Lincoln’s Member of Parliament, Karl McCartney, has launched a campaign advocating for improved street lighting within the city, stirring a debate over which level of local government bears the responsibility.
McCartney’s campaign, motivated by concerns expressed by students and local residents about the safety of walking home after dark, has led to a proposal for the Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) to maintain some level of street lighting beyond midnight, challenging the current practice of complete darkness.
This call for better illumination has highlighted a division between the city and county councils regarding jurisdiction, with the city council indicating that the matter falls under the county’s remit, whereas the county council suggests that the city possesses the authority to implement such changes. McCartney emphasizes the importance of both safety and the perception of safety in the city centre, urging the county council to reconsider its stance and advocating for the support of Lincolnshire Police in these efforts.
The campaign aligns with national priorities, including the government’s focus on ensuring the safety of women, girls, men, and boys at night, and ties into the Safer Streets initiative. The University of Lincoln and its Students’ Union (SU) have expressed strong support for enhanced street lighting, pointing out its significance to the student body, especially given the range of activities that lead students to walk home late.
The issue of responsibility is underscored by the county council’s adoption of a part-night lighting scheme in 2016, aimed at cost-saving and reducing electricity consumption, which has resulted in most street lights in Lincolnshire being turned off between midnight and 6 am. Despite this measure’s success in cutting emissions and saving funds, it has raised concerns about resident safety, though Lincolnshire Police have found no direct link between reduced lighting and crime rates.
Opportunities exist for local councils to fund street light conversions to all-night lighting, a policy detailed by LCC, but uptake has been minimal. The debate continues, with the county council maintaining its stance on the current policy and suggesting other routes for those seeking changes, while the city council insists that street lighting is a county matter.
As discussions proceed, the residents of Lincoln are left waiting for a resolution that will ensure their nights are both safe and well-lit, reflecting the ongoing debate over the best path forward for community safety and environmental responsibility.