A CHARITY in Rugby which supports victims of rape and sexual abuse has “serious concerns” over plans to turn off street lights in the town.
The manager of RoSa said the lights act as a deterrent for criminals and can make people feel less vulnerable.
Warwickshire County Council want the switch off to take place between midnight and 5.30am, saving about £500,000 a year.
Linda Lewis said: “I have a number of serious concerns about this plan.
“The lights being on act as a deterrent to criminals. This deterrent is being removed and could make vulnerable people feel even more scared.”
The county council said it had consulted with the police and community groups to identify other locations that would be excluded from the plans because of safety concerns.
Lights in locations such as roundabouts and pedestrian crossings would remain on as well as areas covered by permanent CCTV cameras.
Linda added: “Rape is usually carried out by people that women - or men - know.
“In the majority of cases it’s a work acquaintance, neighbour, or even their own partners. Eight to ten per cent of rapes are carried out by strangers so the fact these lights are being turned over overnight is scary - and it seems to be a national thing.”
She said victims of rape and sexual abuse are terrified of going out.
“We want to encourage women to feel safe and to feel they have an option of going out,” said Linda.
“Removing lighting in residential areas is not good. Things like young females returning in taxis to unlit streets is a worry.”
She said while the county council are trying to save money, people may feel forced into leaving their lights on overnight.
Linda added: “This could really work against them and make the carbon footprint worse.
“It’s a great shame because it’s the consumer who will end up paying for this.”
County and borough Jerry Roodhouse said he is sure there are more fitting ways to save money.
“My concerns are crime, road safety and money,” he said.
“Why are thousands of pounds being spent on a consultation when the when the decision has been made? It seems like a knee-jerk reaction.”
He also said while a number of alleys remain lit, some of the adjoining streets will be plunged into darkness.
“It’s not good,” added Cllr Roodhouse.
A public consultation has begun and a full list of streets included in the plans have been published on the council’s website.
To view the areas in Rugby www.warwickshire.gov.uk/partnightlightingmap
To contact RoSa telephone (01788) 551151, email firstname.lastname@example.org