Residents ‘raised lighting fears’ before attack on OAP

Drylaw Telford Community Councillor Alex Dale in front of one of the low-energy street lights which he says has led local residents to feel unsafe at night
Drylaw Telford Community Councillor Alex Dale in front of one of the low-energy street lights which he says has led local residents to feel unsafe at night
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RESIDENTS next to the spot where a pensioner was violently attacked by a mugger have accused council chiefs of installing less powerful street lights in the area in a bid to save cash.

Council workmen replaced orange lights with white ones in the Drylaw North area in October, sparking fears among elderly people about venturing out at night.

Some pensioners have even taken to carrying torches to find their way safely after complaining the new lights were less bright.

The campaign against the lights was launched before the attack on 75-year-old community activist Evelyn Crawford, who was left fighting for her life after being assaulted in Groathill Road North on Sunday.

Mrs Crawford, who is a member of Drylaw Telford community council, was among those who had raised concerns about the lighting changes.

Two of the streets where the lights have been changed adjoin Groathill Road North, where the council said the lights had not been altered.

Council bosses said they were aware of residents’ concerns and were engaged in consultations over the matter, including carrying out their own night-time inspections.

Alex Dale, a member of Drylaw Telford Community Council, said: “The council upgraded the lights in Wester Drylaw Place and part of Easter Drylaw Drive. Our fear is that they have put costs ahead of safety.

“I spoke to a person in the council’s lighting department who said they would be saving £20 to £25 per year in electricity on each new light.

“The council say the lights cover the same area, but they are noticeably less bright than before. They are also on one side of the streets only instead of zig-zagged like before. That leaves one side very dark.

“The community council is talking with the council to try to get brighter bulbs back again. Evelyn had been among the community councillors who raised worries from residents who have been left worried about going out at night.”

Mrs Crawford was dragged to the ground by the mugger as he snatched her handbag at around 6pm on Sunday. She suffered injuries to her head, broken fingers and broken ribs which punctured her lung. She was taken off sedation and woke on Monday after having a drain fitted to remove fluid from the lung.

The community council carried out a recent survey and of the 50 responses it received, 30 people raised concerns about the new street lights.

Local councillor Lesley Hinds said: “I’ve spoken to elderly people who are afraid to go out at night now. Some even carry torches so they can get safely to their front door.

“It’s not good enough to say you are saving some money when people are left frightened to go out at night.”

A city council spokeswoman said: “Recent street lighting improvement works in the Drylaw North area replaced obsolete low-pressure sodium orange lights with white ones, which are widely recognised to be more effective. No works have been undertaken in recent years on Groathill Road North.

“We are aware of the concerns of residents in the area and have already planned to meet with the community council to discuss these issues.”