Turn them all off (Vic Thomas)

So our elected members are going to decide on economic cuts without looking at the economic impact of such cuts!

What is difficult to understand is that there are some bright individuals in the council but as a collective it is worse than a line of sheep running headlong into the fence. The exuberant spending by the council over many years quite obviously has to be reined in, but to go at this without looking where it is done or studying where the cuts will result in adverse or disastrous consequences is stupidity personified.

No private company or rational individual would tackle this without looking at the implications of the cuts and avoid cutting where the repercussions might choke something that adds to the collective or the performance to sustain our economy; this is another case of the sheer inability of our elected members to deliver coherent or acceptable governance.

That said it is up to all of us to suggest savings, cut waste or forward ideas to do things more efficiently and none more so than those of us who openly criticise the SIC, so on this basis here is my contribution.

Powys County Council in Wales estimates it costs £40 per year for each street light it is responsible for. Here in darkest Shetland it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest £50+ per light per year so why not look at cutting non-essential lighting?

An example of this is all the lights on the Bixter bus terminus and health centre which could be automatically turned off after the last bus has gone and the health centre has closed. There are about 15 lights working here at the moment so turning them all off at 5.30pm or thereabouts would save around £500 per annum. Multiply this throughout Shetland and all the unnecessary lights on buildings and the savings could be substantial.

For all those folk that cannot live without a street light on all night outside their window, there are some studies around the world that suggest street lighting in small sporadic bursts on roads in the rural environment (Bixter, Swedish houses in Weisdale etc) present a more dangerous road safety issue than no street lighting at all, particularly when it is raining. Other studies indicate that intense industrial lighting makes it far easier for burglars and thieves to ply their trade than if it was total darkness. The argument postulates that in total darkness, the criminal would need a torch or lamp to see what they were doing and would stand out far more than creeping around in the many shadowy areas this type of lighting provides.

So turn the lot off and save thousands of pounds and then Shetland could apply for Dark Skies status and see a new astronomical tourist stream.

Vic Thomas


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