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UK town: If only we had known about LEDs

To market: The LED message had fallen on deaf ears in the market town of Oswestry, but citizen movements like Relight Oswestry helped the mayor see the light.

Surely, anyone in the position of making end-user lighting decisions would have heard about LEDs by now, right?


Judging by Oswestry, England, the LED industry still has some work to do in getting out the message that LED street lighting is far more energy efficient and lasts much longer than conventional street lighting.

Oswestry, in the western county of Shropshire near Wales, is one of the many localities across the UK that has sparked a furore by choosing to turn off the lights in the wee hours. It’s as raw of an energy-saving lighting strategy as you can get, and one that had triggered fears among outspoken residents worried about a possible increase in crime.

So when the locals gathered once again to air their concerns at a town council meeting last week, Mayor John Gareth Jones fessed up: He and the town council simply didn’t know about LEDs when they implemented their lights-out plan last April, the Shropshire Star reported.

And now that he has, er, seen the light, he will reconsider.

‘I voted for the lights to go off initially,’ Jones said. ‘In retrospect if we had the facts about what LED lighting would have done, I think the saving could have been made then. We do need to look at it again because there are dangerous places in Oswestry. I’ve had no end of complaints.’


At least he’s admitted his mistake, and is interested in implementing a new plan of action.

He might even want to consider fast forwarding to the future by tying any new LED streetlights into intelligent data networks that help provide the town with information about traffic, crowds, air quality and all manner of things, as others are trialing or consdiering around the world in places like Denmark and Los Angeles.

No matter what he does, Jones will probably still face controversy, as LED street lighting opponents complain about poor lighting coverage and possible adverse health effects.

And, of course, he’ll have to find a way to pay for the lights. Among the options: EC funding, savings-based no-money down plans, or even crowdfunding, as a Bristol neighbourhood is attempting.

But those practicalities aside, there’s a message here for the LED industry: Keep banging the drum, because plenty of people still have yet to hear the LED beat.

Photo is from the Relight Oswestry Facebook page