STREET lights which were turned off in a bid to save money are set to be switched back on again.

In July last year, Swindon Council decided to switch off 433 lights, mainly in West and East Swindon. It has since turned back on 44 of those after safety concerns.

Now the council has announced plans, to be discussed at the budget meeting this month, to turn back on the remaining lights at a cost of £30,000.

The money will come from central funds and was taken into account in the budget.

Council leader Rod Bluh said the turnabout was in response to fears it could lead to more road accidents, but added he was not aware there had been any problems.

“This was a trial and you don’t get to do new things in a different way if you don’t trial things,” he said.

“It was not just to save money, it was about the environmental aspect as well. Why are we, in the days of scarce energy, running a lot of lights that perhaps weren’t needed?

“It was never about switching off all of the lights, we were talking about switching off the lights we didn’t think were crucial to everyday life.

“This was a trial, it has not been popular. Clearly people haven’t accepted the need for it and if there’s a public will against it I think we have to react to that.

“What I would say is long-term we need to have more efficient lights.”

Coun Steve Wakefield (Lab, Toothill and Westlea), shadow lead for StreetSmart, said: “The Conservative administration have shown common sense and are making provision to reverse the light switch-off. It is something that Labour has called for, it was one of our pledges.

“I have had lots of complaints, and at the West Swindon Forum, there were lots of complaints and when people were asked to give a show of hands, it was a three to one vote for them to be switched back on.”

Resident Ted Spalding, 74, of Toothill, who complained to the council, said the lights being off was dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists on the road, especially in the winter when children are out playing when it gets dark.

He said: “A few weeks ago in Bristol a young soldier lad got killed because the lights were off in that area.

“I definitely agree with the councillor and everybody else that they should put them back on again.”

Labour group leader, Coun Jim Grant, was pleased to hear the lights would be making a return.

He said: “Labour opposed the switching off of the street lights for two reasons.

“Firstly we felt there were safety issues that could crop up in areas unlit due to the switching off of street lights.

“Secondly we felt that it was a basic right of every council-taxpayer to have street lights lighting up their town when dark.”