Street lights in Brighton and Hove may be dimmed as Brighton and Hove City Council seek to find £50 million of savings over the next three years.
The proposals came as East Sussex County Council announced it was extending a scheme to switch lights off in residential areas at night.
Brighton and Hove City Council is replacing most of its “inefficient” bulbs with streetlights which require 40 percent less energy.
The council is also considering “part-night dimming” to save an additional 50 percent, following a similar scheme in Gloucestershire where lights were dimmed by 35 percent between 10pm and 5.30am.
Conservative Councillor Geoffrey Theobald slammed the proposals, saying: “I don’t welcome switching off lights or making them less effective, because of safety with people crossing the road and vulnerability to crime”.
Brighton & Hove City Council reiterated that the plans were not to dim all lights but “just some”.
A spokesperson for the council said: “No dimming will happen at a time or place where public safety is jeopardised. We would want to listen hard to local residents’ views.”
Little is yet known about the streets and areas to be affected by these proposals.
Labour Councillor Gill Mitchell said she supported the idea, but only on the basis of a trial and public consultation before the scheme is introduced.
Mitchell said: “This will need public support and community safety, [and] road safety considerations must be taken into account”.
East Sussex County Council currently spends £1.5 million on street lighting a year and insists that spending reductions are needed.
The council seeks to achieve this by switching some street lights off after midnight and dimming others between midnight and the early hours of the morning.
Jason Kitcat, Cabinet Member for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “The imposed reduction in government funding combined with a cap on council tax rises has affected all councils across the country with Brighton & Hove being no exception.”
East Sussex Division Superintendent Steve Barry from Sussex Police said, “Sussex Police accepts the need to use street lighting efficiently but would liaise with the local authority regarding any specific locations where the crime prevention/ public reassurance benefits are greater.
“It is not possible to predict where crime will increase as a result, however, we monitor and analyse crime patterns very thoroughly and will liaise with the local authority as and when problems occur.
Neuro-Science student Daniel Price said, “I come from Jersey, a relatively safe place in terms of crime in comparison to the UK, so whereas dimming streetlights there might not worry me, it would elevate my concern if it was to happen here”.
He added however, that “media hype” might have a role in adding to people’s fears of crime.