On April 1st, the streetlights went out in much of Cambridgeshire as a result of County Council cuts. However, in Cambridge, they have stayed bright, and we are proud of the key role Sophie Barnett, our City Council candidate, played in this campaign.
As co-chair of Cambridge Labour Women's Forum's 'Keep Cambridge Lights Bright', Sophie helped to lead a powerful campaign. She says, "When we heard about the County’s proposals we wanted to make sure that Cambridge residents were aware of the plans and also to highlight our concerns about the County’s ideas. We spoke to people across the city, delivered leaflets and organised an illuminated walk to Shire Hall to highlight our concerns.
Over 1200 Cambridge residents responded to a county-wide survey saying that they wanted to keep the lights on. With the threat of Cambridge going dark, the Labour-led city council stepped in and negotiated with Cambridgeshire County Council. County planned originally to cease all residential street lighting from midnight, but later agreed to fund lighting to 2am. The City Council then offered to keep lights on from 2am to 6am. While some Parish and Town Councils are keeping overnight lights on, Cambridge is the only district in the county where all lights are staying on through the night.
City Council Leader, Lewis Herbert, says "At under 40p per city resident, we believe the cost to keep the lights on is a price well worth paying. Areas like Romsey are different to Ramsey or isolated rural cottages in the middle of nowhere. Romsey and Cambridge need their overnight street lighting so people travelling late will be both safer and feel safer, and so families and friends at home can sleep soundly.
"We are glad that the deal we struck, and the good relations we have with the County Council, means there is no blackout from the start of April and the new financial year as happened in other counties, and the deal also sees the County Council contributing financially to lighting after midnight, again unlike towns and councils in Essex like Harlow also keeping their lights after the county decision to cut them."
(The City Council also asked the County Council about the viability of replacing the existing Balfour Beatty PFI lights with new LED lights but the County Council refused to fund this initiative.)
Romsey Labour is proud of the City Council and especially proud of the key role our very own Sophie played in keeping our lights on. As she says, "It’s important for residents to have their say in what happens in Cambridge. Through our campaign we were able to make residents’ voices heard. This ultimately led to the streetlights staying on thanks to the Labour-led City Council’s intervention." We know this successful campaign is a sign of what's to come from Sophie if she is elected in May. She is a powerful and energetic voice for Romsey and for the City.