The Public Meeting called by Great Aycliffe Residents’ Association last Thursday to discuss the removal of lighting on the A167 was contentious and lively with no support for the  County Council at all despite the money they would save.
It is fair to point out that all County Councillors representing Great Aycliffe oppose the removal of lighting as they believe it is contrary to the policy agreed.
There was much discussion about the lack of consideration for the number of road users bikers and walkers who use this road and the fear that a number of accidents will be the result of this folly.
The Officer and County Councillor responsible John Reed, and Brian Stephens were invited but did not attend to answer the numerous questions asked by the general public.
Thankfully,  Councillor John Clare was able to give a detailed report covering the cost savings and a map indicating where lampposts were being removed.
None of this appeased the anger in the room against the County Council who were called  “daft as soft mick”.
The Chairman Syd Howarth, read out a letter from the Business Park community who thought removing lights was  beyond comprehension as Aycliffe was focussed on promoting growth, jobs and the biggest industrial area in the north.
The meeting at times became very rowdy indicating how very upset people were and there was a suggestion that the Council consultation process was dubious, left to website access and lost in the policy changing general street lighting.
The communication of  suspect policies via internet was questioned by those who do not have this facility. Comments on being misled and questions on why were the lampposts installed in the first place if only to be removed now?
How could the road be less dangerous and require less lighting with more traffic on the road?
Town Councillor Malcolm Iveson stated there was now alternative cheaper and brighter lighting available which would give greater savings and he was amazed the Council had given this no consideration.
The general consensus showed an overwhelming opposition to the removal of lights and GARA was authorised to send the resolution to the County Council and also ask a public question in the Council Chamber.
The resolution was as follows:
At  the Public Meeting held on Thursday 19th March at St. Mary’s Meeting Room at 7pm it was resolved unanimously that:
“This meeting supports the seven Great Aycliffe County Councillors in their efforts to retain the street lights along the A167 between the A1M and Rushyford on the grounds that the removals are contrary to agreed policy and this main arterial road cannot be categorised as “rural”.
The meeting further expressed the view that the removal of lights would cause danger to road users, cyclists and pedestrians and does not take into consideration the current high usage and the future expansion of housing and industry this road will  feed.”