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Newspaper campaign lights up readers’ lives

A ten-month campaign by a local newspaper to persuade a council to scrap plans to switch street lighting off has proved a success.

The Buckinghamshire Advertiser launched its Keep The Lights On campaign after Buckinghamshire County Council announced plans to switch street lighting off to save money.

The campaign ended in victory last week when the authority confirmed that the plans to switch off 10,000 street lights between midnight and 5.30am to save £77,000 a year  had been scrapped.

News editor of the Trinity Mirror title, Andrew Jackson, told HTFP: “This is a great result for our readers. Since the council announced its plans we have been inundated with calls, emails and letters from the public expressing deep concerns over road safety if the switch-off goes ahead.

“We have received widespread backing for this campaign from the community and this U-turn proves that the local press really can make a difference. We calculated that the savings made if this went ahead would work out at 36 pence per taxpayer in a year.

“Our readers did not believe such a small saving was worth it for a move which could cost lives.”

More than 300 readers signed a petition which was handed to council bosses by Advertiser reporter Jack Abell in February.

As well as receiving support from road safety groups, the campaign was backed by Ray Stacey, whose 23-year-old daughter Elaine, was killed on an unlit road last year.

Added Andrew: “We applaud the council for listening to the public. We accept that savings need to be made, but spending cuts must be made carefully and above all else the council has a duty of care to protect public safety.”

The council recently completed a three year trial in which it switched off 1,600 street lights across the county.

The council’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr Peter Hardy, told the newspaper that many of these lights would be switched back on in areas which had seen an increase in traffic collisions.