by hannah smith
In the latest change by Warwickshire County Council, the lights are now timed to go off from 1am to 6.30am on Friday and Saturday nights, and an hour earlier from Sunday to Thursday in the hope of lighting the way for as many people as possible.
The switch-off was moved from midnight to 1am on December 21 in ‘response to public reaction’ and was understood by councillors to be set until the summer - as we reported last week.
But bafflingly, by January 2, the council’s ‘winter trial’ had ended and the blackout reverted back to midnight - spanning just a handful of nights to gauge effects.
And, in response to continued public upset, the council made another U-turn on Wednesday, deciding to run with the different times for weekdays and weekends - which is set to remain in place until the clocks go back in the spring.
But it has brought mixed reactions, with one resident describing it as “still not suitable” and another suggesting the answer is to keep alternate lights on to make the savings.
County councillor John Whitehouse (Lib Dem), who feels the switch-off was introduced at the worst possible time of year, said confusion was rife as the council made a “pig’s ear” of trying to handle reaction.
“Policy changes are being made ‘on the hoof’, and press announcements being put out only to be contradicted hours later,” he said.
Town councillor Richard Davies (Con), who suggested the initial 1am time every night, said he cannot understand why the times have ben changed again.
“It saddens me the council listened and responded to reaction but then suddenly went back to what they wanted in the first place,” he said. “One of reasons I called for 1am was so vulnerable people working late could get home safely. I wonder how any office workers are around at 5.30am.”
But Cllr Alan Cockburn, with responsibility for the lights, made it clear the scheme is here to stay.
“People are out later at weekends and up earlier in the week and this is what we are responding to,” he said.
“We have invested £1.6 million and with huge savings to be made each year it is simply not possible to have the lights back on.”