CONCERNED residents have staged a protest calling on a council to return streetlights it removed from a busy walkway between two villages.

Campaigners, wearing high visibility vests and carrying torches, last night marched along Brandon Lane, from Langley Moor Primary School to Brandon and back again, to demonstrate what they argue are the hazards of walking along the road in the dark.

Durham County Council switched off the lights and removed them along a 300 yard stretch as part of its street lighting energy project.

Ward councillor, Paul Taylor, said: “I do support the project, in that it cuts carbon emissions and will reduce energy, which is wonderful.

“Within that policy, though, it is said streetlamps will only be removed where it is felt it is safe to do so. I can’t think of a worse place to take them out.

“It is busy walkway between Brandon and Langley Moor and is a designated pedestrian route to school.

“I went down when the last lamppost was removed a week ago and was horrified. It is just pitch black.”

Resident Dr David Weinkove said: “There are people who have to walk to Langley Moor Primary School and to the shops. On the other end there is a sports club, the cricket the boxing club and GP.

“People use that road all the time to walk. There are no markings showing where the pavement ends and the road starts.

“It feels very intimidating and unsafe to walk along that road.”

He added: “The council have not consulted the community. Councillors Paul Taylor and John Turnbull argued against it, but were ignored.

“It’s not a typical rural lane between two villages. It is at the heart of the community.”

John Reed, the council’s head of technical services, said: “Some of the street lights on Brandon Lane have been removed as part of our countywide street lighting energy reduction project. We are now in the final year of this six-year project that aims to reduce carbon emissions and save £24 million over the next 25 years.

“We would like to assure the community we only remove lights where it is safe to do so and we will not be removing lights in any residential areas, roundabouts, major junctions or where there are proven road safety and crime issues.

“The lights on this lane are not required by our Street Lighting Policy which we have consulted on. After a thorough risk assessment by an independent road safety auditor, it was found these lights could be safely removed.”