THE council’s cash-saving scheme to turn off night-time streetlights is putting residents’ safety at risk, it has been claimed.

Taxi drivers in Swindon say that the scheme to switch off the lights on some stretches of road has made driving on some an “unnerving”


One said it is not worth the risks for the expected saving of £20,000, and there must be a better way of finding the money than shutting down more than 400 streetlights – which the council did for the first time at the weekend.

Driver Andy Lucas, 41, of Stratton, said: “It made me decidedly uncomfortable.

“Every road in West Swindon is in the dark – Tewkesbury Way, Mead Way, Roughmoor Way – I found it very unnerving driving in them.

“This is supposed to be a major town, not a village with all the roads in darkness. It doesn’t look a very good advertisement for Swindon.

“For the amount of money they’re trying to save, £20,000, there’s better ways of doing that than compromising safety.”

He added: “My job rather depends on working at night. I have to negotiate the road, and avoid people on the road who have had a lot to drink and their road sense isn’t what it would be at other times.

“I don’t want me or other people’s safety compromised for the sake of £20,000. What price do you put on someone’s life?

“If someone is seriously injured or killed and this was a contributing factor, it’ll be too late to switch them back on and say sorry.”

Fellow driver John King, 57, of Longstock Court, Eastleaze, said: “If you drive around Swindon, the rabbit population is quite high. You go along, and something jumps out in front of you, you can’t see. To me, it’s dangerous.

“You’re going down there at night, it’s completely dark, especially on the way to Purton. At the end of the day, street lighting is essential and has to be maintained all the time.”

And Hackney driver Harjinder Toor, 51, of Chamberlain Road, Stratton, said: “These days, there’s not so much of a rush on Mondays and Thursdays, but on Friday and Saturday leave them on.

“The risks are somebody will probably end up getting killed. If not, we’re killing animals – rabbits and stuff like that.”

But Conservative Freshbrook and Grange Park councillor Peter Greenhalgh said: “I do find it astonishing that people believe you need to have street lights in order to drive on a road at night.

“When you look at Swindon as a whole, we have whole swathes of rural roads with no lighting whatsoever, and people seem to be able to drive on those without a problem.

“This is just a trial. We might be planning to extend this after the trial period is finished. Let’s wait and see how it pans out first before jumping to conclusions.”