hilary benn

The Tories have turned out the lights but Labour has got a plan to turn them back on and still save money

I've always been a fan of Hilary Benn, he's a great speech maker (must run in the family!) and one of the most astute minds in the Shadow Cabinet. He's demonstrated that again today by talking into an important issue, one that really resonates with voters up and down the country and, best of all, offering a solution to the problem. 

The issue is that the Tories have literally taken us back to the dark ages. By that I mean the news that 75% of councils in England have dimmed or turned off their street lights to save money. Under this Government streetlights have become merely eyesore memorials to a day when we could afford to help people get home safe after dark. As Ed Miliband is fond of saying: 'Britain can do better than this'.

So Hilary Benn's solution is two fold. Firstly Labour will allow Councils a 4-year budget cycle rather 12 months. That will free them to make sound investments now to save big money later. So secondly Labour councils (and hopefully Tory and Lib Dem ones too) would invest in new low energy LED bulbs for street lights as they are doing in Madrid (see more here: http://www.theclimategroup.org/what-we-do/news-and-blogs/madrid-to-upgrade-100-of-its-street-lights-with-smart-and-sustainable-led-system/). These energy savings of 44% are not only better for the environment but they'll mean savings for cash-strapped councils thus allowing them to keep the lights on.

Remember it's not just about helping people FEEL safe, street lighting genuinely does cut crime and save lives so even being totally mercenary about it - turning off street lights costs more in the long run whereas Labour has put forward an alternative that saves on the cost of running the lights and avoids the human and fiscal costs caused when the Tories turn out the lights.