Councillors in Skegness ready to step up campaign over streets lights

Skegness Town Council is urging residents to share their concerns about street lighting. ANL-170812-154057001
Skegness Town Council is urging residents to share their concerns about street lighting. ANL-170812-154057001

Residents in Skegness could expect a knock on the door as the campaign to get streets lights put back on in the resort gathers momentum.

Data from a Lincolnshire County Council scrutiny review on the impact of the part night street lighting policy to save the authority £1.7m a year was delivered to members of Skegness Town Council at their meeting on Wednesday.

Since the policy was introduced in April 2016, around 42,000 streetlights across the county are now switched off between midnight and 6am.

However, councillors heard that in spite of public concern about a possible rise in crime, only 3258 responses have so far been received to the LCC consultation – and they are now prepared to go knocking on the doors of their ward members to increase this figure.

Police have continued to maintain that crime is low with Assistant Chief Constable Shaun West stating although there had been an increase of 55 incidents of criminal damage, there was no evidence to link them to street lighting changes.

“There’s a very different thing about being safe and actually feeling safe.” he said – and this is where the argument from Skegness Town Council gathers strength.

Coun Mark Anderson said: “People are not only living in fear. Women are frightened to work and go home at night in the dark. We need to gather facts and act as a council.”

Coun Danny Brookes, whose petition to get the lights back on which he started before becoming Mayor now has more than 6,000 signatures, supported a suggestion councillors should get out in their wards to gather support.

He said: “We need to share this with everyone we can think of.

“Our economy depends on its nightlife. If when the consultation ends there are 10,000 responses and 5,000 are from Skegness maybe the county council will start to listen.”

- Reiterated that there needed to be an effort to deal with the fear of crime as well as actual figures and statistics

- He put the onus on county council to supply specific areas which were affected by part lighting - asking for street names.

He also asked for the council’s input on what they would like in future reports, including to what extent they would want crimes such as anti-social behaviour, RTCs and assaults

- He also made a commitment that he

“I’ve heard challenges about myself as the Assistant Chief Constable being partners with Lincolnshire County Council, so if there is an increase we will not hold cc to account. However, for public record members of the community can be absolutely confident that if theres any suggestion thats a connection between crime and therefore potential for victims to be harmed as a consequence of lighting changes we would have that conversation with you [Lincolnshire County Council] to hold you to account. This is not only a legal responsibility but a personal commitment to our community of Lincolnshire.”

- Councillors said they needed more detailed data. The general overview given by police was not

RECOMENDATIONS

Future priorities of the report

- Geographically align data

- Details of specific streets subject to part night lighting

- Wider data set - crime type for instance

- Consideration of other issues such as road safety and ASB

- Make better use of the options in NICHE

- Target the public perception and fear of part night lighting increase in crime

“My colleagues tell me, and when I’m at community forums myself, at the barbers and they know what I do what they vent about with passion and rigour and what you’ll see from your own survey is they say Shaun we get we are saft and Lincolnshire is the fourth safest county in the country, that’s something we are proud of and strive to be but that bit about feeling safe does not always reassure us.

“For many lighting is not just a source of light, it is a source of comfort. For many they have grown up with it and for some that’s the anger and anxiety we experience in forums and news and it is at our peril if we do not listen to that and adjust or adapt accordingly.

“That of course, does not mean and I am not advocating that as a consequence part night lighting is reversed but as a partnership we need to look at how we make people feel.”

- Agreement of exemptions of crime and hotspot areas

FINAL

L is 4th safest

Something about recognising that any time in Lincs crime has gone up 4 per cent.

There has been decrease in 3 types

11 % nationally

“This report is about statistics, I apologize to public and press for talking about statistics as the ACC in Lincolnshire I absolutely recognize there are victims behind each of those stats so forgive me about talking some sort of purist. We absolutely get the emotional connection if you are a victim and the affect this has on your life.”

Paul Skinner praised consideration of NICHE and asked if data sets were similar to what other forces had been used.

Coun Kirk acknowledged that the report, which doesn’t cover town centres, only gave an overview and said scrutiny needed to be getting data for areas which were affected by part-lighting.

SW confirmed what he said and added that the police report could only be as good as the data officers had themselves been provided.

JW - said analysts at LP had been contacted by data officers at LCC. He said it was about finding a mechanism about exporting map-based data in a way that wasn’t just ‘a long list of street names’.

Newton reiterated this was This is useful to us but its not an exact science is it? My local Insp is saying a lot about perception and he doesn’t approve of the extent of street lighting cuts in South Holland which is what most people are saying but again I don’t think all of that is out there for everybody.

She asked how long it would take for data to be turned around once provided.

BS said you would still only have 6/7 months of data at the moment, but once data was provided there would be a much clearer picture. Particularly as time goes on.

Councillors discussed other types of crimes to include, including assaults which took place in the street (rather than inside properties), and antisocial behaviour such as drug using.

Coun Cullen: “We’ve noticed in Mablethorpe which we’ve brought up in M which I’ve been working with, we’ve noticed where its lit in ngiht time that drug users have gone down where its not lit and we’ve had an increase with drug types down those darkness areas.”

Shaun West said that if you consider that ASB and that mainly people were users, that was ASB and was not currently considered in the report put out last week. He said if councillors wanted to include it it would take more time.

Sara Barry, the Safer Communities Manager said she would be ‘nervous’ if councillors chose to include ASB in future reports on the effect of part night lighting from police because: “It is one of those types of crime and incident which has a great many fluxuations depending on what’s going on out there it goes up in school holidays and if it snows and there’s snowball fights. It has a lot of fluxuation and there’s a lot of asb done by school children.”

Shaun West said communities were reassure with presence of officers in their communities and would be more so if police had presence in the streets. However, he reiterated that the force had to allocate its limited resources where it was needed.

Sara suggested waiting to see what the survey said before deciding what to do about public perception. But said the Community Safety Partnership had statutory duties to understand people’s perceptions.

Paul Skinner said it was very important to establish a decent data-set to understand what was happening.

Councillors were told by officers that there would be further work to ensure data was what councillors needed. It was also suggested that councillors asking for data from previous years as well.

The deadline for LCCS consultation on street lighting is January 5. Following that it is hoped to evaluate the evidence further from February onwards with a final report being made in June of 2018.