PLANS to dim streetlights to help South Gloucestershire Council balance its books are “dangerous” for bus passengers and vulnerable people, a public transport campaigner has warned.

The local authority wants to extend a pilot project that would see all 31,500 of the district’s lamps reduced to just one-quarter of their brightness from 11pm to 6am.

It would save the organisation £200,000 a year in energy costs and cut its carbon emissions by 15 per cent.

The idea was backed by 76 per cent of residents during public consultation, but a Violence Against Women and Girls survey carried out by the council found that 80 per cent of respondents wanted better street lighting.

Council papers say hate crime in South Gloucestershire has increased by 46 per cent in the last four years and that there is a “concern over whether reduced levels of lighting would impact this further”.

But the authority and the police say there is no evidence that lower lighting levels cause more crime.

However, transport campaigner David Redgewell told South Gloucestershire Council scrutiny commission on Wednesday, January 31: “Turning down street lights to save money is dangerous to bus passengers, dangerous to those who are socially excluded and dangerous to people in the villages.”

He said areas around bus stops and public transport interchanges needed to be well lit for people using late-night bus services in places like Kingswood, Hanham, Winterbourne, Yate, Thornbury and Bristol Parkway.

The proposal forms part of the council’s annual budget, which is set to be approved by cabinet on Monday, February 5, ahead of a decision by full council on February 21.

 “We know fear of crime is a concern for many"

A council spokesperson said: “The proposal is to dim streetlights to 25 per cent of their brightness between 11pm and 6am, when vehicle and pedestrian use of roads and pavements is at its lowest.

“This follows a trial of the measure, introduced in January last year in some areas.

“If this measure is taken forward, following the current consultation we estimate that once fully implemented, each year it would reduce our carbon emissions by a further 15 per cent and reduce our spend on energy by £200,000 per year.”

The council’s consultation document said: “We know fear of crime is a concern for many, and as part of our planning, we have engaged with the police and colleagues in our antisocial behaviour team to understand potential negative consequences of dimming streetlights.

“There continues to be no evidence suggesting a direct correlation between dimming lights and crime.

“However, we recognise that some people, especially women and people from some minority groups who have historically been at greater risk of being targeted by antisocial behaviour, will have concerns.

“With partner organisations, we will continue to assess location-based evidence and work together to reinforce messaging which reduces fear of crime.”

If approved, engineers will re-programme all the lamps, one by one, over the next two years from April – a task that cannot be done remotely.