Councillors criticise plan for lights on Devizes Green as a waste of cash (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Councillors criticise plan for lights on Devizes Green as a waste of cash
1:00pm Thursday 10th January 2013 in News
Wiltshire Council has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money with plans to put lighting on The Green when it is switching off street lights elsewhere to save money.
The council is planning to put lampposts on the large Green to light up the footpath, which is to be widened to become a shared walkway and cycle path.
Devizes Town Council owns The Green and while it has given approval for the footpath to become a cyclepath some councillors have concerns about the proposed lighting.
At a meeting of the town council’s planning committee on Tuesday night councillors voted 9-3 to defer making a decision on the lighting to clarify the lighting scheme with Wiltshire Council and to consult with the public through the town council’s newsletter, The Messenger.
Putting lighting The Green is a controversial issue and has been turned down in the past because of concerns it would intrude on the open space of the area.
Coun Margaret Taylor said: “Lighting causes pollution. Any cyclist should have lights on their bike anyway. This proposal would result in permanent fixtures on The Green which we have avoided. The public may not want these lights.”
Coun Ian Hopkins said: “Lighting on The Green would be an unmitigated disaster. Most people think it should remain as it is and lighting would be a wrong approach. It’s safe for cycling at night.”
But Coun Peter Evans said: “This is the perfect opportunity to get a new path across The Green. The present path is in a very poor state. If we turn it down the town council will have an immense cost to replace it.”
Noel Woolrych, a local resident and former town councillor, spoke against the lighting at the meeting.
He said: “This is an environmentally sensitive area. I do support a cycleway across The Green but not putting in unnecessary lighting. It will cost a lot to run when street lighting is being turned off at night by Wiltshire Council. I think this is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Wiltshire councillor Jeff Ody said: “I am not against cycleways – I am a cyclist – but it cannot be beyond the wit of man to provide a safe cycle path that does not require new lighting.”
A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said: “The scheme has been prioritised by the community through the Area Board’s Devizes Community Area Transport Group.
“We want to encourage people to use the path all year round so making sure it is lit is an important factor. We are working with the town council to ensure any lighting is sympathetic to the area with a small number of traditional-style lanterns.
“Our new energy and money-saving lighting scheme will not see us turning off any lights in areas used by lots of pedestrians or cyclists which could leave them vulnerable. Lights will only be dimmed or switched off on major roads at less busy times.”
The spokesman said Wiltshire Council would have to adopt the footpath from Devizes Town Council to implement the changes.