NEW eco-streetlamps being installed across the town are so bright that they have been compared to the County Ground floodlights.
All 28,000 of Swindon’s streetlights are being replaced by the council but those living in areas where work has already taken place have complained they are being kept awake at night.
The scheme is costing £6.9m and is due to be complete by the end of next year.
Helena Williams Bowie lives with her husband John in Penhill Drive, where the lamps were replaced in the middle of August.
She said: “They are so bright. It’s like trying to sleep in the County Ground, They’ve got four huge floodlights, and we have three just outside on the roundabout.”
John is registered legally blind but can see light and shade and is also autistic. Helena says the lights cause him particular problems:
She said: “He has a sensitivity to light because of the autism, and problems with his sight means the light hurts his eyes as well.
“It is disturbing him and he doesn’t sleep well anyway, but it is making it worse.
“People might say we should wear an eye mask or get blackout blinds or curtains, but I don’t think we should be forced to do that – for families on a low income, that’s a big cost to struggle with.”
Helena added: “I’m not against the new lights coming in, I know it will save us money in the end.
“But it’s the brightness. They need a shade, or to be angled differently or something.
“Even if they dimmed them at midnight, that would be a help.”
Helena supplied pictures of the new lights in her street taken at 2am, showing them to be very bright. The roundabout a few yards away is brightly illuminated by four closely-arranged lamps.
Others are experiencing the same problem. When Helena posted about the lights on the Swindon Community Noticeboard Facebook group, David Oakley said: “These are bright white and at least four times brighter than original. They fitted a cover on the old light as that kept me awake. This is much worse.
“These need to be lower wattage and have diffusers and probably soft white light.”
Jane Toomer added: “We have had them for a while. They were just changed one day with no warning. Nothing keeps the light out of our bedroom and I haven’t slept properly since.
Hilary Care wrote: “We’ve had them fitted and it’s like daylight shining in all the time. First time I noticed it had been changed I thought someone had parked up opposite the house and left their lights on full beam. I hate them.”
The council has moved to reassure people that newly-installed LED streetlights will be dimmed soon.
A spokesman said: “Upgrading Swindon’s 28,000 streetlights to LED lanterns is a huge programme of work, which will take about 18 months to complete. Once installed the new lights will consume less energy, reduce light pollution and will save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
“Unfortunately, the new lanterns cannot be dimmed as soon as they are installed because this needs to be applied via special software.
“We would like to reassure residents that we are working with the contractor to implement the dimming function as quickly as possible.
“So far streetlights are being upgraded in Moredon, Pinehurst, Upper Stratton, Ferndale , Gorse Hill and Highworth, and a number of the streets in those areas are now benefitting from the dimmed lights.”
“Our project team are happy to help any residents who have been experiencing problems with the new lights. Queries can be submitted through the council’s Report a Problem page, while answers to a number of frequently asked questions can be found on the council’s website at www.swindon.gov.uk/LEDscheme”