Stratford student calls on Warwickshire chiefs to keep streets lit after dark following tragic Sarah Everard case - The Leamington Observer

Stratford student calls on Warwickshire chiefs to keep streets lit after dark following tragic Sarah Everard case

Catherine Thompson 16th Mar, 2021 Updated: 16th Mar, 2021   0

A STUDENT is urging Warwickshire council bosses to keep the county’s streets lit all night following the plight of murder victim Sarah Everard.

Chloe Fojtik from Stratford has launched a petition which calls on Warwickshire County Council (WCC) to keep all streetlamps lit after midnight to help women feel safe.

Of the 50,000 streetlights operated by the county council, 35 per cent are on all night if they meet a criteria including being close to potential road hazards, care homes and A&E departments, and in alleyways and along cycle paths away from roads. The rest turn off at midnight from Sunday to Thursday, and 1am on Friday and Saturday.

The authority says since the introduction of the part-night lighting in 2013 and LED technology, streetlighting electricity consumption has reduced by nearly 60 per cent.

But Chloe, a former bar worker-turned-carer, believes all night lighting could make a difference to people’s safety and fear around walking in the dark.

Her concerns were sparked following the murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard in Clapham Common as she walked home during the night.

The tragic circumstances of the crime has resounded with people across the nation, who have felt vulnerable on the streets at night, with scores of individuals, particularly women, citing personal stories of harassment, abuse and of being followed.

The 22-year-old said: “The tragic death of Sarah Everard has amplified the anxiety of being out at night in the dark and makes you wonder why the street lights are off.

“I’ve had an overwhelming response from people signing the petition – about 50 women have messaged me either about being feeling unsafe after dark or incidents which have happened to them. Some of them sounded horrific.

“I’ve worked in pubs and bars since I was 18, so often I would be walking home after a drink in the dark. When you hear footsteps but you can’t see the person, it’s honestly one of the most terrifying things.”

The politics student described her own experience of being followed, aged 15. She explained she and a friend were walking along Evesham Road around midnight when a van drove past a handful of times. The pair hid behind a bush in someone’s front garden when the van stopped, before finally driving away slowly.

Chloe is collecting accounts like hers, sent by women in the area, to further illustrate her argument to the council.

The council says it is aware of the petition which has been signed by nearly 1,400 residents.

A spokesperson said: “WCC has regularly monitored the part-night streetlighting policy. It has been found that there is no evidence that the introduction of part-night lighting is associated with increases in crime.

“While there are currently no plans for the part-night lighting policy to be reviewed, we will await receipt of the petition.”

Chloe added: “All these women opening up about their experiences of sexual assault and harassment is a good way to get the point across. It’s not about crime rates or saving money, people should have the right to feel safe in their own own street.”

Click here to sign Chloe’s petition.


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