Filton town councillors have voted to continue investigations into lighting Millennium Green.
The parkland area at the bottom of Elm Park is popular with dog owners but, as they and others told Filtonvoice last year, many fear walking there on dark winter evenings.
Filton Town Council urged the campaigners to set up a group to explore the matter further and conduct a survey while councillors made initial investigations into costs and practicalities.
An open town council meeting in October attracted a large attendance of both park users and also local people concerned about the effect of light pollution and on the park environment.
Councillors voted 9-3 to continue investigations into implementing a system.
Dan Pope, Chair of Friends of Millennium Green, said: “The council asked us to set up a committee in January and we now have a group of around 30 people.
“We organised a spring clean and did work on bins and a noticeboard as well as putting in gates to stop children and dogs running into the road.
“We want low level lighting in winter months. We don’t want floodlights, we just want it safer.”
Hannah Morley of the Friends group recounted an occasion when she was a teenager and had a frightening experience in a dark park before she and her friend were rescued by a passer-by.
She told the meeting that respondents to the Friends survey had said people avoid using the park at night and a female running group would use it if it were lit.”
However Matthew Lipton of South Glos Council said there was a biodiversity crisis in the UK and light pollution is a factor.
He said light pollution can affect a range of animals and can affect night pollination, some species only operate at night.
He said: “There should only be lights if absolutely necessary. Filton is already heavily lighted and this is one of last dark spaces. I recommend not to light it.”
Local Beat Officer Gareth Pretlove said that while he could see the benefit of low level lights, there was eveidence in Filton that anti-social behaviour tends to happen in areas with more light.”
Filton town councillor and South Glos lead member for climate change Alex Doyle said: “It is vital we protect the last bits of dark space. In Bristol, they have protected areas like Downs. What are we willing to do to preserve our environment, for example alter our patterns in winter?”
The meeting was told that costs for a system could range from £400 to £81,000, depending on what choices were made although initial investigation by the council suggested a cost of between £15-£28,000.
Cllr Andy Robinson, a strong supporter of a lights scheme, said: “I still haven’t seen quotes or technical details for £15-28k quotes. I have proposed £17 lights, costing a total of about £400.”
Cllr John Baverstock said the £28k quote would be not enough and could triple once installation and other factors were considered.
Members of the public expressed views in favour and against:
“I know a FACE charity worker has to walk kids home from clubs who are too afraid to use the park.
“No way would I walk across that field late at night, it’s dangerous. But I’m concerned where lights would be placed and the impact on houses that surround the field.”
“The environment and insects issue really chimed with me. Some issues are not to do with lights. In Covid, men gathered and drank vodka.”
“Lights do exist that are bat safe and it would be crazy to not investigate further. We need more than just 2 meetings. There is definitely compromise to be had.
“It would only benefit a small number of people at a time of financial crisis. It would increase our energy use and carbon footprint. We’ve already got lights in Elm Park.
“I live in Third Avenue and I’m worried that we will lose the bats.”
Councillors voted as follows, in a motion reading: Filton Town Council to investigate financial implications to install lighting at Millenium Green before any final decisions are made. This is to include a full expert unbiased ecological report.
Cllr Esther Adjievi FOR
Cllr John Baverstock FOR
Cllr Alan Bird FOR
Cllr Daniel Boardman FOR
Cllr Daniel Harris FOR
Cllr Anne Kenyon FOR
Cllr Tom Mewies FOR
Cllr Julie Molloy FOR
Cllr Andy Robinson FOR
Cllr Alexander Doyle AGAINST
Cllr Brian Mead AGAINST
Cllr Adam Monk AGAINST
The motion was carried 9-3.