Dim streetlights spark crime fears

Dim street lights arre causing concern. Picture: Cate Gillon
Dim street lights arre causing concern. Picture: Cate Gillon
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City residents have been left in the dark by new LED lampposts – and fear poorly-lit streets will spark a crime wave.

Council leaders have pledged to turn up the brightness on the eco-friendly lights amid claims that locals have resorted to using torches to get into their properties.

One of the new street lights. Picture: Ian Georgeson

One of the new street lights. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Others say the poor lighting makes them feel unsafe and fear it will make pedestrians and homeowners an easy target for muggings and break-ins.

The lights are being rolled out in a phased £30 million project to save on future lighting bills and make the city more energy-efficient.

Easter Drylaw resident Lorraine McTigue, who has started a petition calling for a re-think, said streets were “effectively in darkness”.

She said: “This problem is echoed throughout the city in the areas the new lights have been installed. The situation is totally disgraceful and jeopardising the safety of all residents.”

I am a carer in the community and find the new street lighting makes the already dark nights more frightening.”

Shirley King

The petition has been signed by more than 100 people living in areas which already have the lights – including Drylaw, Clermiston, Currie, Portobello and Restalrig. More than 250 streets have so far been upgraded with the LED lights.

Locals claim that the modern lamps omit a dim, concentrated pool of light, creating “significant dark spots from which anyone could appear”.

City leaders have pledged to address the problem by manually adjusting the brightness settings – but not until next month.

Fears about antisocial behaviour in dimly-lit streets are particularly acute in north Edinburgh, which has suffered a crime spate in recent months.

Shirley King said in her comments on the petition: “I am a carer in the community and find the new street lighting makes the already dark nights more frightening. They do not offer the same light as before, with the street in between lights very dark. I am worried muggings and house break-ins will be on the increase.”

And Currie resident Emma MacDonald said: “It’s far too dark, especially outside a school. I would feel uneasy walking there myself when it was dark, not even late at night.”

Ms McTigue said that even the ceremonial lamp in Councillor Lesley Hinds’ Easter Drylaw garden – given to her when she was Lord Provost – appeared to be brighter than the new street lights, although the local authority refuted these claims.

Cllr Hinds, the city’s transport and environment convener, admitted there had been “inadequate communication” with residents.

She said: “I’m pleased to confirm that after monitoring the situation and taking complaints into account, we’ll be upping the brightness in streets where this appears most needed. This adjustment work will start in April, once all the new lighting in this first phase of the rollout has been installed.”

Cllr Hinds said the LED lights were better for the environment and longer-lasting than traditional sodium street lights. The energy-efficient bulbs are expected to save nearly 40 per cent on the £2.97m spent each year illuminating the city.

Cllr Hinds added: “While they are also recommended by police as being safer and better than the old kind of street lights, clearly the brightness has to be set at a level which reassures residents that they can feel safe at night.

“In response to the feedback, the rest of the lights due to be installed will be set at this same increased brightness level.”