A LEADING councillor has backed calls to abandon controversial plans to switch off street lighting along a popular Southampton walkway.

Under a trial planned for early next year, lights along Lovers Walk, in Highfield, will be switched off to deter people from using it at night.

However, worried residents, university students and cyclists who use the path, on the edge of Southampton Common, say the scheme will only put more lives at risk.

Councillor John Hannides, whose constituency of Bassett includes Lovers Walk, last night echoed their concerns and called for the opposite approach to be taken to make the area safer.

The cabinet member for leisure and culture said he would like to see improved lighting, enhanced CCTV and shrubs removed along the designated cycle path that links Burgess Road with Highfield Avenue.

"We are conscious as a council that we do not want to create the perception that there are areas that no one should feel comfortable using," he said.