A petition calling for street lights to be turned back on across Warwickshire has been presented to the county council.
The petition, which has been signed by more than 1,000 people, was started by Chloe Fojtik, from Stratford, who urged councillors to put the safety of women before any financial implications.
Speaking at the start of today's (Thurday's) full council meeting at the Old Shire Hall in Warwick, Ms Fojtik said: “I started the petition to get the street lights turned back on in Warwickshire in March 2021 because, as a woman, I don’t feel safe walking home in the dark.
“I would like to present this petition on behalf of everyone who has signed and on behalf of anyone who clutches their keys in between their fingers on their way home, the people who tuck their hair into their coat so they can’t be grabbed from behind, the people who carry alarms in their pockets for fear of being assaulted and raped. This petition is for those people who are scared to walk home in the darkness.”
She explained the response she had to an invitation to people to tell their anonymous accounts of their bad experiences while the lights were off.
She said: “The stories ranged from feeling unsafe to being seriously assaulted, harrasment and sexual assault. Every single person who messaged me was a woman and out of the 50 people who messaged me only two reported those incidents to the police.
“I understand that these big decisions are normally decided by looking at facts, figures and monetary means. However, I ask you to consider this petition with a thought of how residents feel at the forefront of your mind. I feel as though the safety of residents, especially women, should come before saving money. This is a serious issue that thousands of residents are concerned about.”
Back in March, a Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said the impact of the ‘part-night street lighting policy’ was regularly reviewed and that it had not been associated with increases in crime.
Cllr Wallace Redford (Con, Cubbington and Leek Wootton), the council’s portfolio holder for transport and planning, added: “We will consider the petition but I want to give an assurance that Warwickshire County Council is committed to working with partners to ensure the safety of residents and visitors across the county.”