An e-petition has been launched to fight the decision to switch off street lighting in our borough.
Gravesham Labour Party and Councillors have also been conducting street stalls and canvassing about the contentious Tory controlled decision to turn off street lighting, in response to residents’ concerns. Many expressed direct opposition to this decision during surveying.
Parents were concerned about young people returning home from a night out, while night workers such as nurses, carers, and cleaners said they must travel at night and during the early hours of the morning. Street lighting is simply a necessity for them and others, and is not a luxury.
The Tory Chairman of a council committee refused to accept a motion about street lighting from a Labour member and then threatened to have him removed from the meeting when he persisted on putting the motion.
At a meeting of the Gravesham Joint Transport Board on Wednesday 18 June Cllr Colin Caller, a Labour borough and county councillor, put forward a motion to request Kent County Council to reinstate all night lighting, pending further review and wider consultation. The motion was refused by the Tory chairman, Cllr Bryan Sweetland, who is also a KCC cabinet member.
Cllr Caller said, “Cllr Sweetland abused his position as chair of this important joint committee by refusing the motion without any explanation of his reasons for doing so. When I persisted on putting the motion Cllr Sweetland then threatened to prevent me from speaking further by having me removed from the room.
“I can only assume that as Cllr Sweetland was responsible for promoting the street lighting policy during his time as KCC cabinet member for Transport, he was extremely embarrassed by any criticism of the scheme. He was also aware that as Labour has a majority on the committee the motion would have been passed so he did everything he could to block it.”
Cllr Caller accused Cllr Sweetland of being heavy-handed and politically biased in his chairing of the committee and concluded, “The residents of Gravesham deserve to have their street lighting reinstated to protect them from crime and for their general safety and well-being. All Cllr Sweetland is interested in is saving his own political neck and those of his colleagues who made this disastrous decision which has blighted local residents’ lives so much.”