Why is Rye being left in the dark over street lighting?

Dark Rye
Dark Rye

AREAS of Rye are being left without street lighting overnight while other towns like Hastings and Eastbourne will be brightly lit by new LED technology.

The announcement has been made just months after an East Sussex County Council representative ensured Rye councillors that LED lighting could not be used in the town as the technology was not yet available.

While the lights go out at areas like Rye’s Tilling Green estate, street lights on residential roads in Eastbourne and Hastings will be replaced with bright modern LED alternatives as part of a county-wide drive to save £885,000 over the next three years.

A county council spokesperson said: “Recent advances in technology have increased the performance of LED lighting and reduced the cost of them so that they are now a viable economic alternative for a large-scale project to deliver savings in energy costs.

“LED lighting will be introduced elsewhere in the county as new schemes are implemented or existing lighting needs replacing.”

Yet at a presentation to Rye Town Council back in October, the county council’s lighting project co-ordinator Fiona Wellings said LED lighting in Rye was not an option.

She was quizzed by a number of councillors, including former Mayor John Breeds over the viability of using LED lights but responded by saying: “The technology just isn’t there at the moment.”

She also said there is “no money available” for a proper footpath survey in Rye to identify potential tripping hazards before the lighting cuts were introduced.

Rye is currently undergoing a six month trial which has seen street lights on main roads dimmed between midnight and 6am. Larger roads have lost 50 percent of their lights between 12.30pm and 5.30am, while smaller roads, in areas such as Tilling Green, will have the lights turned off completely during those hours.

Tilling Green Residents Association says it is already having an adverse affect on night workers returning home and those, such as lorry drivers, who have early starts.

They are also concerned about the safety of young people on the estate returning home after visiting night clubs.

Cllr Adam Smith said: “There was very limited lighting on the estate already and lots of trip hazards.”

Cllr Heidi Foster had said: ““People on Tilling Green are worried. There are quite a lot of old people there.”

Rupert Clubb, Director of Economy, Transport and Environment, said: ““A year ago we were spending close to £1.4million a year on electricity for our street lighting and illuminated signs.

“We have been forced to make some very difficult decisions in order to make significant savings over the next three years. “All changes to street lighting have been carried out in consultation with Sussex Police to ensure our county remains a safe place.”