Lights to stay on in Winchelsea after poll

WINCHELSEA residents will continue to burn the midnight oil after the Parish Council sided with the majority of residents in a recent poll.

All registerered electors in Winchelsea were asked if they wanted the footway lights, which the Parish Council provides, turned off from midnight to 5.30am.

A number of councils have done this to save money and reduce their carbon footprint but opinion varies on whether the saving that would be made compromises the safety and security of residents.

Arrangement for a poll of residents is included in the Local Government Act 1972. This enables a number of residents to require that a poll is carried out to ask registered electors their opinion on a Parish Council matter.

Parish Clerk Steve Foreman explained: “As this model is enshrined in legislation we decided to follow this process as closely as it could but restricted voting to residents of Winchelsea. The cost was in the order of £250.00 or 10% of the cost of a formal parish poll.

“113 electors voted which represents 28% of registered electors. 63 voted to leave the lights on and 50 to turn them off. Voters were asked to confirm they were registered electors and eight did not but there was still a clear majority in favour of leaving the lights on.

Winchelsea councillor Richard Comotto said: “This was the third vote on the issue. The previous votes went in favour of turning out the footlights at midnight.

“The turnout this time was nominally 28% of registered voters, but discounting those who did not confirm that they were indeed registered voters, it was 26%.

“The Council rejected the first vote because the turnout was only 24%. The difference is hardly material, especially when you consider that before the latest ballot one councillor were talking of a threshold of 75% “But this is the result the Council wanted.

“ However, there is much unhappiness in Winchelsea, on both sides of the issue, over the way the ballot was conducted. It was called with just two weeks notice for a Thursday in the middle of the August holidays and excluded those who were away or housebound. The matter is unlikely to be allowed to rest here.”