Upset over Warwickshire County Council's response to Chloe Fojtik's streetlight petition
Campaigner Chloe Fojtik has been left bitterly disappointed by what she called an insulting response from the county council to her petition for better street lighting.
Stratford resident Chloe, 23, launched the petition in March after women shared harrowing tales of sexual harassment in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder. In the petition, which had more than 3,866 signatures, she called for Warwickshire Country Council to keep on street lighting which typically switches off at midnight.
She said: “It’s something I feel strongly about. With what has happened to Sarah Everard it has amplified that sense of not feeling safe when out at night.”
In 2013, the 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.
Chloe presented the petition to a full council meeting in July. At the time she spoke at length about the experiences of women and the need to help them feel safer on the streets.
However, when Cllr Wallace Redford, portfolio holder for transport and planning, sent her a response to her petition outlining how the council would follow up, Chloe was left fuming when he failed to mention women’s safety.
Instead, Cllr Wallace said: “Having given careful consideration to your request, we have decided to undertake an extensive analysis of crime types that affect people in a public place, as well as crimes such as residential burglary, theft from and theft of motor vehicles, and commercial burglary during the night-time period.”
He concluded: “Should there emerge a need to refresh our policy then we will do so, including taking into account climate change implications.”
Chloe said the response was “insulting” and “disappointing”.
In a letter to Cllr Redford: “The women who have been assaulted as what seems to be the direct result of the streetlights being switched off at night has not even been acknowledged and that is deeply upsetting.
“Sadly, this reply has shown that Warwickshire County Council does not seem to care, or even acknowledge the fear that women feel whilst walking home, in the dark, with the streetlights off.”
Chloe concluded: “The women that reached out to me personally to tell me their stories, deserve better.”
Meanwhile Warwickshire Police announced it was taking part in the StreetSafe national online tool which allows people to flag places where they have felt unsafe.
The system – which is primarily aimed at women and girls – allows the public to anonymously drop a pin onto a map and describe factors that caused them concern.
See Thursday's Herald for Warwickshire County Council's response.