Swathes of Derbyshire could be plunged into darkness under controversial plans to stop fixing broken street lamps.
Derbyshire County Council (DCC) is to launch a consultation on the cost-cutting proposals which would only see failed lights in high-priority areas being replaced.
The plans look set to affect residential streets and industrial estates across the county – but not areas such as hospitals, town centres and accident blackspots.
The Conservatives at Labour-led DCC claim the proposals – which will help save £775,000 – are “potentially dangerous and a backward step”.
DCC is having to make a number of tough decisions in a bid to slash £157m from its budget over the next four years because of Government cuts.
Councillor Dean Collins, DCC’s deputy cabinet member for jobs, economy and transport, said: “We’re facing budget pressures like never before and have had to cut the amount of money we have available to spend on street lighting.
“We’ve decided not to routinely replace light bulbs as we have been doing, but this will lead to more street lights going out when they get to the end of their working life.
“We won’t be able to replace every light bulb when it expires so need to know where people think we should spend the limited amount of money we do have.”
Cllr Barry Lewis, leader of the Conservatives at DCC, said: “Labour wishes to plunge the county into a new Dark Ages.”
Cllr Simon Spencer, shadow cabinet member for jobs, economy and transport, added: “Labour appears to be dragging the whole county back to the 1970s, which was defined by power cuts.”
A spokesman for DCC said: “Each street light bulb has been routinely replaced once every three or four years, depending on the type of street light. The money is now no longer available to do this.
“There are 89,000 street lights in Derbyshire and about 18,000 street lights are expected to go out during the current financial year. The council only has the money to replace 12,000 of them, which will leave 6,000 not replaced.”
Visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk to take part in the eight-week consultation, which is expected to start next week.
The following locations are suggested as being high-priority areas, meaning street lamps would be replaced within five working days:
• Main traffic routes
• In town centres
• Places with significant night time accident records
• Around hospitals, nursing homes, sheltered housing, fire and police stations
• Areas with local council or police CCTV equipment
• Pedestrian crossings, subways and enclosed footpaths
• Where road safety measures are in place, like roundabouts, chicanes, speed-humps and central carriageway islands