Concerns over switching off street lights in Powys have been raised again amid a nationwide debate on preventing violence against women.

The decision to switch off some streetlights in the county was taken by councillors over a decade ago as part of a cost cutting exercise.

But recent events – highlighted by the murder by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens of Sarah Everard in London earlier this year – have placed the decision under fresh scrutiny.

The National Wales: Sarah Everard. Pic issued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

At Powys County Council’s finance panel meeting last Friday, October 8, councillors discussed the proposed cuts and savings from last year that have been rolled over to this financial year – and Cllr David Thomas asked if council heads considered “public opinion” before going ahead with savings.

A “cost reduction” of £13,820 made from a review street lighting from the 2019/20 budget had been rolled forward to this year, with the council only funding lighting in “conflict areas”.

The report added that the council wanted town and community councils to pay for any additional streetlights.

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Cllr Thomas said: “There is an emphasis on violence against women, and rightfully so, it’s a high-profile issue, I’m surprised to see that a reduction in street-lighting should still be in there.

“My understanding of conflict areas is that they are things like hospitals, fire stations, older people’s accommodation, but the savings seem very limited, only £13,280.

“I think the rationale behind all of that has now changed considerably, if it is a proposal for a reduction there could be a backlash.”

The council’s head of finance, Jane Thomas said: “They were all approved by the council for delivery as part of the budget setting process, the impact assessments would consider that.

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“If things have changed, services would need to factor that in as they further consider delivery of these, my understanding is that will have been done.

“I understand there were savings in previous years, and this was the tail end of it.”

When the 2020/21 budget was set in March 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the council had expected to make “cost reductions” of £12.394million.

The report shows that £9.453 million or 76 per cent of these was achieved, but £2.941 million was not.

A review into street lighting in 2019/20 saw savings cut from £150,000 to £75,000 amid fears that darker streets would help criminals.

Earlier this year Cllrs Joy Jones and Les Skilton started a campaign to switch lights back on.

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