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Part night lighting in Dorset

Part night lighting has been introduced in areas with the lowest levels of highway use to reduce spiralling energy costs. In addition, the funding we receive from central government has been greatly reduced, resulting in a gap between the services we used to provide and the money we now have to deliver them.

The full council of elected members for Dorset County Council decided to reduce the energy budget for our street lighting by 20% to help meet this gap. The only way to achieve this saving is by turning lights off in areas where they are not essential.

Initial savings of at least £300,000 per year will increase year on year with expected rises in energy costs. Based on even a modest 3% annual increase this measure will save over £10million in the next 25 years.

Working with Dorset’s town and parish councils, to identify safety concerns and with Dorset Police to assess operational requirements, each road has been assessed to determine if it meets the street lighting policy criteria for all night lighting to be provided.

It is not possible to just dim lights, leave some lights on, reduce the time lights are switched off or turn any back on unless the situation clearly meets the policy criteria.

Areas with part night lighting

Part night lighting has been introduced on most of our quiet, urban residential roads and rural roads, which have very little use, crime or accidents after midnight – and where part night lighting is unlikely to cause any noticeable increase in risk. Some lights in these areas many remain on, where safety or statutory requirements cannot be met by other means.

Town centres, designated traffic routes, roundabouts and roads with vertical speed humps will remain lit all night. Some other areas with higher crime levels, CCTV installations or which are busy all night (near police stations, hospitals) will also remain lit all night.

Anyone using roads when the lights are switched off needs to make their own assessment of the possible risks, taking their own appropriate actions to mitigate those risks down to a level acceptable to them.

As there is no statutory duty for local authorities in the UK to provide public lighting, you are unlikely to be able to claim as a result of this service reduction.

Timings and control

The lights operate on GMT all year and are programmed to come on from dusk until around midnight (GMT) and then back on again from around 5:30am (GMT) until dawn - if it is still dark. In summer time the lights still operate on GMT so will go off at around 1am (BST) and back on again at 6:30am (BST).

These times are only approximate and individual lights will operate earlier or later by up to 30 minutes.

Each light is fitted with an individual sensor which switches off half way between dusk and dawn, so this will vary from clock midnight by up to 30 minutes at some points in the year.

Each sensor is factory set with the switch off timings and no communication with, or adjustment of, the sensor is possible.

When this sensor is first switched on it calibrates for a few nights then starts to switch on only from dusk until midnight, switching back on again at 5:30am (GMT) if necessary. Interruptions to the electricity supply or some maintenance activities can reset this process, so the light will operate all night for a few days until the timing is set again. 

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