THE decision to switch off thousands of street lights across Adur at midnight has sparked fears among residents of a rise in crime.
The money-saving move by West Sussex County Council has left hundreds of homes in pitch darkness at a time when many are still heading home.
People living in Gordon Road, Shoreham, are among those affected by the controversial cutback.
Some of the road’s residents say the crime rate has risen since new street lights were installed at Christmas.
“People are concerned,” said resident Melanie Woolnough.
“It’s eerie and creepy and it’s pitch black walking down the road.”
Mrs Woolnough said there had been an increase in bike thefts and vandalism in the road since the new measure was introduced.
Similar changes are being made all over the country, in an effort to save the taxpayer money, and help councils hit their energy-saving targets.
“It’s quite a busy through road and bus route, and is close to the train station,” said Mrs Woolnough.
“Midnight seems to be really early for the lights to be going off.”
Shift workers, people catching late trains back from Brighton and those returning from Shoreham’s pubs have all found themselves in complete darkness on the last leg of their journey.
Mrs Woolnough said residents in Gordon Road wanted the lights to stay on for an extra hour or two each night, and had appealed to the council for an extension.
Part-night lighting has been in operation in many of the county’s residential roads since the 1970s.
A West Sussex County Council spokesman said the aim was to for most residential areas to be part-lit, with town centres and main roads remaining lit all night.
The county-council spokesman said there had been no evidence that part-night lighting had led to increased crime and that some studies had actually shown an overall reduction in night-time crime in areas with part-night lighting.
He said East Sussex was pursuing its own part-night lighting policy and, prior to this, there had been no statistical difference between East and West Sussex crime rates.
“The energy reductions shown by pursuing this policy are of huge saving to ratepayers and, with rising energy prices, will continue to show positive benefit into the future,” he said.