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RoSPA and international pet brand warn of dangers to dog walkers as one million street lights switched off

flexi

As the darkest day of the year dawns, new research conducted by leading pet brand flexi lead has found that the UK’s ten million dog owners could be walking into danger following changes made to one million street lights across England. flexi’s research reveals that 91% of English councils surveyed have now embarked on light saving initiatives which means street lights are being dimmed, part-switched or switched off completely across the country.

With only seven hours of daylight due on Saturday December 21st - the darkest and shortest day of the year - the window for the UK’s ten million dog owning households to take a stroll in the light is small, meaning instead of going for a walk in the park, many will end up going for a walk in the dark. In response, flexi lead and safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) are using the longest night of the year to remind dog owners to be ‘Bright at Night’.

By researching the street lighting plans of councils across England, flexi found that in addition to 33% of councils switching lights to part-time lighting, 58% of councils have dimmed street lights and 11% of councils have switched off street lights completely. Of the total councils surveyed, this amounts to a reduction to around one million street lights across England, in a move by councils to reap cost savings and environmental benefits.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: “Street lighting improves safety, and any decrease in lighting increases the risk, especially for pedestrians, including dog walkers. As well as it being harder for drivers to see people walking in dark, there’s also more potential for walkers to trip and fall over kerb edges, uneven paving and unseen obstacles on the path.

“With many councils switching off or dimming street lights in some areas, there are simple steps that dog walkers can take to protect themselves and their pet from any increased risk. Firstly, find out where the level of street lighting has changed in your area and the times at which the lights will be switched off or dimmed. You can then try to avoid walking your dog in these areas and at these times. Then think about increasing your visibility, carry a mobile phone with you and let someone know where you’re heading.”

As well as issuing the warning, flexi has also created a downloadable fact sheet on its website which lists a number of things owners could do ahead of stepping out, including wearing high visibility clothing and keeping control of your dog - not letting it off the lead unless in a safe, well-lit area.

Adrian Hind, spokesperson from flexi comments:

“Safety and product innovation are key parts of our business, and having created products such as our NEON lead, boasting highly reflective components, to provide our customers with increased visibility and safety when they’re out and about - we felt we could provide further support for those facing dog walking in the dark.

“Walking a dog is and should be an enjoyable task, but the shortest day of the year can pose worries for people that can’t get out in daylight – especially if lighting in their area has been switched off. 39% of UK households are dog owners so this issue will be affecting a lot of people, by urging owners to take extra or even new measures at this time of year, we’re hopefully giving people peace of mind for Saturday and for the rest of the winter months.”

ENDS

For further information, or to arrange an interview with flexi please contact
Katie Honeybourne (07964 414 014 / Katie@spottydogcommunications.com)
or Lisa Jones (07739 549012 / lisa@spottydogcommunications.com)

For further information from RoSPA please contact:
Charlotte Hester / 0121 248 2135 / chester@rospa.com
or Alison Brinkworth / 0121 248 2134 / abrinkworth@rospa.com


Notes to editors:

- flexi’s research was undertaken during December 2013 through analysis of street lighting policies from 60 English council authorities. 60 councils were selected from across England, including county, local, unitary, city and London authorities in order to provide a strawpoll indication of the changes to street lighting across the country.
Full statistical breakdown is available for media review.

- Authorities researched were:
Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bedford Borough Council, Borough of Poole, Birmingham City Council, Brighton & Hove City Council, Buckinghamshire County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Central Bedfordshire, Cheshire East, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derbyshire County Council, Devon County Council, Dorset County Council, Durham County Council, East Sussex County Council, Essex County Council, Gloucestershire County Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Kent County Council, Lancashire County Council, Leeds City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Lincolnshire County Council, Peterborough City Council, Norfolk County Council, Northamptonshire County Council, North Somerset Council, North Yorkshire County Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Redcar & Cleveland, Southend on Sea, Southwark Council, Shropshire County Council, Somerset County Council, Southampton City Council, Staffordshire County Council, Stockton on Tees, Suffolk County Council, Surrey County Council, Swindon Borough Council, Telford & Wrekin Council, Warwickshire County Council, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Worcestershire County Council, City of York, Hull City Council, Derby City Council, Reading Borough Council, Bristol City Council, Wokingham Borough Council, Islington Council, Croydon Council, North Tyneside, Milton Keynes, Bournemouth, Plymouth