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Council backs calls to improve street safety

Action to make the district’s streets safer and reduce the fear of crime has been backed by Stratford District Council.

Stratford Herald (46489408)
Stratford Herald (46489408)

A motion from independent councillor Jason Fojtik had originally been submitted calling on the district council to demand the county council turn streetlights back on at night.

The motion came on the back of a petition organised by his daughter Chloe Fojtik, who has worked tirelessly to highlight the issue of violence and harassment against women, following the death of Sarah Everard in February.

Her petition, which called on the streetlights to be turned back on in Warwickshire, has been signed by close to 4,000 people.

Back in 2013 Warwickshire County Council made the decision to turn off around 5,000 streetlights across the county between midnight and 5.30am as part of a cost cutting scheme.

During Monday’s Full Council meeting, Cllr Fojtik presented an amended motion which although keeping streetlights at the heart of the debate also urged the council to investigate other ways it could address safety and fear of crime.

Cllr Fojtik’s motion urged the council to engage with the police to come up with a strategy to make the streets safer.

He said: “All night street lighting is an important factor for safer streets in some areas. We have to remember that it is not just about crime and crime figures, it’s about how we feel when we’re out on the streets, particularly at night. I’m hoping the county council can look at this motion to start a dialogue between stakeholders so people can feel safer, whatever time it is, whether it be day or night.

“Somebody made the point to me and it is fairly obvious; we all feel safer walking when the lights are on.”

Colleagues across the political spectrum supported Cllr Fojtik’s motion, with deputy leader Cllr Daren Pemberton, praising Chloe Fojtik’s efforts over recent weeks.

Cllr Victoria Alcock said: “This is very close to my heart, I have been that woman walking home at night and have been scared. People ask are these things reported to the police, but what do you report? You can report that you felt scared but couldn’t see anybody, it’s because you are walking in the dark.

“Turning the lights off did a lot of good for the environment, but people should question whether turning them off made criminals feel safer and people walking home feel more scared. It is time to turn the light back on, it’s time to hand our streets back to those who work late at night during antisocial hours.”

Cllr Susan Juned added: “Concern about women’s safety has been at the forefront of the news agenda this year, but many of us have been committed to the need to protect women for many years and we all need to be part of the solution.

“I’m so pleased now that there are so many saying that enough is enough and want to be part of finding a solution. Harassment on the street is part of a bigger problem, last year almost two women a week were killed by a current or former partner and domestic abuse affects one in three women.”

She added that the solutions were complex but the council could use its powers to help.

In the end Cllr Fojtik’s motion received the unanimous support of all councillors.

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