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Dim view as councils cut lighting

Town halls are cutting back on street lights in a bid to save money after the coalition Government slashed funding.

More than half of councils are planning on reducing the number of lights or dimming them, according to a survey.

But there are fears that darkened streets could encourage criminals as well as increasing the risk of road accidents.

Of 75 town halls in England in Wales polled by the BBC's Newsnight, 32 - nearly 43% - said they are already committed to having fewer street lights.

Nine (12%) said they are dimming lights, and a further 14 said such measures are being considered.

The remaining 20 insisted they will not be changing lighting levels in their area.

Essex County Council is said to have turned off 18,000 of its 220,000 street lights, saving an estimated £1.25 million a year.

Authorities in Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire and Somerset are also reportedly implementing curbs.

The reductions come after the Government announced central funding for councils was being slashed by more than a quarter over the next four years.

A Police Federation spokesman told the Daily Mail: "The cuts could well mean that back streets and outer areas become a more fertile area for criminals to become more active in. The lighter an area is, the safer it is for public safety, pedestrians and indeed, motorists."

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