Winchelsea to keep the lights burning all night

29/8/12- Street lighting in Winchelsea.
29/8/12- Street lighting in Winchelsea.

WINCHELSEA residents have voted to keep on burning the midnight oil.

Residents took part in a poll, conducted by Icklesham Parish Council on whether to turn off the footpath lights from midnight until 5.30am.

Doing so would save an estimated £750 a year but residents voted 63 – 50 against the switch-off.

Winchelsea Ward councillor Richard Comotto says the turn-out was very low and criticised the parish council for the way in which it polled residents.

He said: “The turnout was only 28% of registered voters or about 21% of adult residents. If one deducts the ballot papers which failed to confirm that the voter was a resident, the turnout was just 26% of registered voters and about 19% of adult residents.

“The council had no way of ensuring those casting ballots were registered electors, so asked voters to confirm on their ballot slips that they were residents: several failed to do so.

“Given the turnout was so low and the first two ballots were rejected by the parish council because the turnout was 24% or less, the question now is whether the council can legitimately accept the third ballot.

“Many residents, who were unable to vote because they were absent or were not on the electoral register, have protested that the ballot was unfair as it should have included all tax-payers and allowed postal votes, particularly as it was called with only two weeks notice in the middle of the holidays.”

Many councils, including East Sussex County Council are now considering turning off street lights late at night to save fuel costs and contribute toward reducing CO2 emissions.

Some residents were concerned about safety and security but the Paish Council consulted the police last year and were told there was little evidence that this would be compromised but research on the subject was inconclusive.

The results of the poll will be discussed by Icklesham Parish Council when it meets on Monday evening.