Time To Embrace The Darkness, Rugby

12 Mar

On 1st February 2013, Rugby along with Nuneaton and Bedworth, followed the lead of Warwick and implemented a Part-Night Lighting scheme with 39,000 street lights switched off between the hours of midnight and 5.30am (Stratford and North Warwickshire will begin their own part night lighting scheme in April 2013). It’s all part of a Warwickshire County Council Plan to save a lot of money, but it is fair to say that it is not without it’s critics.

The lobby against Part-Night Lighting hinge their objections on the suggestion that such an action will have a detrimental effect on overall public safety. They fear that there will be an increase in thefts and attacks in areas without lighting….

Of course, it is a well known fact that all that stands between the average person and a random act of violence and/or public disorder is the presence of street lighting between the hours of midnight and 5:30 am. The streets will be awash with violence as people’s carnal senses enjoy their freedom from the conservative restraint of street lighting…but probably not.

Other places that have implemented Part-Night Lighting Schemes have not seen dramatic increases in violent attacks, muggings or rapes. As one of the estates affected by the switch-off, I can honestly report that there does not appear to have been a dramatic increase in cannibalism or a breakdown of the basic sensibilities of society.

No, In my humble opinion, Part-Night Lighting is a good idea, here’s why:

It saves the local authority a lot of money by not having to pointlessly keep lit street lights that aren’t really benefiting anyone. Why should you care about saving the local authority any money? That’s rather simple, the local authority does lots of groovy things that you, if you sat and think about it, will probably want it to keep doing for the foreseeable future, things like providing social care, looking after roads etc. In order to keep doing these things and make the savings Eric Pickles expects, local authorities have to stop doing things that are arguably a bit pointless. Lighting 38 000 street lights between 12 am and 5:30 am is arguably a bit pointless.

Also great news for anyone with a telescope and a love of the stars. Light pollution, mainly from fluorescent street lighting, blocks out so much; it’s why when you’re out in the countryside there appear to be far more stars in the sky. We’re lucky in Rugby to have a decent view of the heavens that is relatively free from light pollution, but the difference when the lights go out is both noticeable lovely. Find out more about the campaign for dark sky reserves.

Still not enough? The vital services saved? The beautiful tableaux of a pollution free night sky? No? Well it will also reduce carbon emissions by 3000 tonnes. 3000 tonnes! That means there will be at least 13.6 Polar Bears that won’t die…possibly, I’m never totally sure on the exact Carbon to polar-bear-not-dying exchange rate.

Dear Mr & Mrs Outraged Middle Class, Do Be Brief.

Alas, there is already talk of a review into the part-night lighting and I, for one, think that’s a shame. All too often ‘a review’ is cunning code for ‘we’re going to cave in to the ill-thought of views of the irate letter-writing middle classes.’

Make no mistake, the letter-writers will ruin it for everyone! They find themselves at such a loss of anything even approximating a life that their only recourse is to send angry emails to their local newspaper editor, their local MP, in fact anyone who is paid enough to endure their misguided prattle. If democracy no longer works it’s because this lot killed it.

The huge irony is Mr and Mrs Rabidly Outraged Middle Class don’t actually have any vested interest in lighting after midnight. They don’t tend to be in professions where there is a requirement for night time working and they are certainly not out and about in the street after midnight. They probably broadly agree with the idea of local authorities saving money too, they’d just rather that savings be found somewhere else other than the street lighting that they get no benefit from or the libraries that they haven’t used for years. They’re nimby hypocrites of the highest order.

I hope they don’t win here and we continue to embrace the darkness in Rugby.

Disclosure

In the interest of disclosure, I am employed by Warwickshire County Council, but these views are my views as a private citizen of Warwickshire affected by part-night lighting. As such, all these views are totally my own and not endorsed in any way by my employer.

I choose my words carefully and stand by them, but you know the score, right? If you don’t like these thoughts, stick around, I have loads of others.

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