Folkestone West County Councillor Tim Prater has welcomed a U-Turn by Conservative Kent County Council on the removal of streetlights in the area.
Kent County Council had previously issued a paper proposing the turning off and removal of over 200 streetlights across Shepway. In Folkestone West, streetlights marked for removal included lights leading into Cheriton on the A20 from Peene to J12 of the M20, Sandgate Hill and Sandgate Esplanade.
After lobbying by Councillor Tim Prater, including a Lib Dem motion on streetlighting at the December Full Council meeting, Kent County Council seem to have revised their proposals giving local control over the proposals and abandoning plans to immediately remove columns.
Tim Prater was fighting the proposals in Folkestone West as potentially very dangerous.
Lib Dem Councillor Tim Prater said:
"None of the Folkestone West removals make any sense. There are plenty of areas in Folkestone West where local residents may welcome lights being turned off late at night, lower density lighting or even some complete light turn-offs. These specific schemes however are dangerous for both pedestrians and drivers, on main roads and in the wrong places."
He also had argued that in any case, if the Council were going to trial a streetlight turn-off of certain lights, the columns should remain in place so they could be relit if the need was proved.
"I've spoken to the Cabinet Member for Highways and heard of a statement by Kent County Council that seems to have performed a welcome but screeching u-turn on the hugely damaging removals programme.
"Although the suggestions will still be submitted to local bodies (Joint Transportation Boards) those bosies will be able to reject or modify schemes. Hopefully Shepway JTB will listen to the arguments I will put forward on the 3 proposals for Folkestone West and support me. Hopefully they will also listen to Sandgate Parish Council who voted unanimously against the removals there.
"Where a scheme of tuen-offs or partial turn-offs is actually agreed locally, it makes perfect sense to leave the columns in place for a trial period. If the scheme makes the area more dangerous or fell more dangerous, then they can simply be turned back on. In these days of budget cuts, if the columns are removed, its unlikely the budget to reinstate them will ever be found, no matter how great or clear the risk.
"I can't understand why these proposals ever came forward in the form they did in the first place. I hope lessons have been learned, and Kent County Council can actually start to live up to its stated aspiration to listen to people and give them a real say on their services."