Shining a Light on Labour's Dimming of Our Streets

Gary Malcolm, Lib Dem Councillor for Southfield calls for action

Cllr Gary Malcolm in Southfield Park
Cllr Gary Malcolm in Southfield Park

I recall about ten years ago when we received a lot of feedback from residents that they feared passing through Southfield Rec Grounds to go to and from work or get their local bus due to it being dark.

I took some viewpoints from the police and Ealing Council. They both said lighting some of the paths would be costly and was a bad idea! However, I went back to the police and the Council to ask for their evidence as to why lighting one or more paths would be a bad idea and they offered no evidence, just an opinion.

So, the three Liberal Democrat Councillors consulted residents by a paper form and at a number of Southfield Ward Forum meetings. After finding the funding we implemented the lighting of three paths that people said they used the most.

Lighting the paths in Southfield Rec Grounds led to more people using the paths in the early mornings and late evenings. The police said there was a lower rate of crime in the area.

We even listened to residents who came up with the idea of not lighting the park 24 hours non-stop but by using timer devices the park was lit only when people needed to use the park.

This consultative approach goes totally against how the Ealing Labour party approached things in 2016 when they decided to dim the lights from 10pm until the morning. Many people in Acton and Chiswick work shift work and value the lighting in the evening after midnight especially those who work in the hospitality sector.

One study (Lucie Parker et al in 2019) showed that street lighting was linked with a 39% reduction in crime, so lowering the light in 2016 by Labour clearly was not a good idea. There is evidence in another study that rates of robbery increased when the level of lighting was reduced.

Another study from Stephen Farrall et al from Sheffield University, I read, showed that rates of arson and loitering went up when lighting was reduced. In Essex a study (Farrington et al in 2018 ) showed that when the Council turned off its lights the level of burglary and vehicle crime increased.

So, all in all many findings show that crime often rises when lighting is reduced but sometimes it is not just the crime rates that can change but people’s fear of crime rises when lighting levels are reduced.

Sometimes, people, especially those who feel vulnerable, say that they do not want to travel or walk around on their own. We should be finding ways to get people to get out and not feel frightened. Certainly Ealing Labour have a way of not wanting to reverse a bad plan from 2016.

The Liberal Democrat commissioned study on Women’s Safety early in 2021 and it found two main recommendations - reverse the light dimming and for the local police team to patrol in a more visible way.

We are committed to reversing the light dimming for Acton and Chiswick; not just talking about it.

If you want a Council that listens and is looking to help you become safe, then vote Liberal Democrat in the May local elections.

Cllr Gary Malcolm - Southfield Ward


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January 18, 2022