A decision to turn off streetlights in large swathes of Southampton for longer overnight has been branded “utterly disgusting”.

Previously, lights went out in residential areas from 1am to 4am every day.

But with Southampton City Council in dire need to save money in the face of high energy costs, now they will be off for an extra two hours.

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Starting from tonight, the lights will be shut off from 12.30am until 5.30am.

Lighting in the city centre, main roads or areas with high crime rates will remain on.

Deputy Tory leader, Cllr Jeremy Moulton, said the move was "utterly disgusting" and felt the change raised many questions about public safety.

Daily Echo: He said: “The police in Southampton have been very clear that in discussions with residents, street lighting has been highlighted as a key player in making residents feel safe.

“This change makes the city streets more dangerous and makes residents more vulnerable.

“The decision is one of many that the council are making due to the financial situation they find themselves in.

“This is likely to affect many as we reach the Christmas period and people are out late celebrating, this is of particular concern for young women.

“It certainly does also not help to stop car break-ins or deter criminals. It is also likely to affect those on shift work, getting up in the early morning, who will now have to drive through pitch black streets.

Cllr Moulton said he was disappointed that the council had not briefed councillors nor the public on this new decision.

Daily Echo: Cllr Jeremy MoultonIn response to Cllr Moulton, a spokesperson for the council said: “Turning off streetlights during part of the night in certain areas in the city formed part of the proposals in this year’s budget consultation to deal with the national rising costs of energy, reduce CO2 emissions and bring ecological benefits.

“The initiative is a response to increased energy costs and a need to reduce our energy usage across the council as well as part of our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint.

“The council’s approach is that the switch off is primarily focused in residential areas and the scheme does not operate in many areas such as the city centre, main routes or areas of high crime. 

“Having been approved, the proposal was implemented in a flexible manner, which allowed us to react and make changes to the scheme if necessary.”