RESIDENTS claim that a decision to turn out street lights has led to a rise in crime.

A warning was issued about criminals on the prowl after street lights were switched off in Dorset.

Councillor Les Ames told Dorset County Council’s environment overview committee that residents had raised concerns about burglars and car thieves.

His comments came as a 74-strong signature was handed into the committee from residents in the Bedford Road and Hereford Road area of Weymouth against street lights being turned off at night.

The warning comes just days after residents and councillors renewed calls for street lights in Littlemoor to be turned back on after an arson attack on a car in Geelong Close.

The county council has decided to switch off nearly all of its 20,000 street lights in residential roads between 1.30am and 6.30am to help save £150,000 from its street lighting budget.

Coun Ames, who represents the Portland Tophill ward, said that people in his area were suffering.

“Recently, we have had a number of incidents, according to residents, caused by the lack of lighting.

“There are a number of lanes in my area and I am told that people have been waiting in these dark areas and attempting to get in back doors. Cars have been damaged and broken into.”

He added: “It appears that it is getting quite serious.”

Under the scheme, full lighting was left on in town centres, high crime areas, busy roads, highly pedestrianised areas, roads with such features as humps and roundabouts.

Coun Ames said that police had told him that it was difficult to protect people with the street lights off.

The county councils’ environment overview committee agreed to note the petition and send a reply that the lighting for the area met the council’s policy.

Arsonists Destroy Vehicles On Town Estate

AN arson attack in Littlemoor has sparked calls to turn street lighting back on at night.

Arsonists torched a silver Audi early hours of Saturday. The blaze quickly spread to a caravan parked nearby.

Littlemoor councillors Andy Cooke and Rachel Rogers echoed calls from residents to bring back the lighting.

County councillor Mr Cooke said it had been a ‘mistake’ to turn a lot of the lights out and borough councillor Mrs Rogers said that the lights out policy was ‘contributing to more fear of crime in Littlemoor and beyond.’ Switching off street lighting in Littlemoor and other areas from the early hours to early morning is part of a county council plan to save £55m over three years.

In response to the decision, members of the Littlemoor Community Action Group launched a petition in June to get them switched back on, which will be presented to Dorset County Council.

They said they fear that with no lighting after midnight, crime will increase on the estate.