TENDRING will be plunged into darkness next weekend as street lights are switched off.

The controversial plan will see most street lamps turned off between midnight and 5am in a bid to save energy and cash.

The big switch-off was due to take place on New Year’s Day, but was postponed after Tendring Council asked for more time for consultation.

Campaigners claim the move will make the district’s streets more dangerous, but County Hall bosses argued that pilot schemes in Maldon and Uttlesford had been successful, with no negative impact on crime figures.

They say the countrwide scheme will save £14million.

Tendring Neighbourhood Watch chairman Mike Vaughan-Chatfield said: “The lights are there for safety and I believe that should be maintained.

“Using LED lighting would be cheaper to install and run so short-term and long-term it would appear to be the best option.

“Southend Council has now changed to LED lighting. It will save money, cover the costs and come out with a profit."

Blueprints show lights will not be switched off in town centres, key road junctions and accident blackspots.

Lights will remain on in Clacton town centre, including Pier Avenue, Station Road, Rosemary Road, Pallister Road and High Street, as well as Clacton Railway Station.

The town’s busy St John’s Roundabout and junctions at Brook Retail Park and in Old Road will also remain illuminated.

Frinton’s Connaught Avenue, Walton High Street and Brightlingsea’s High Street, Station Road and Promenade Way will also stay lit, as well as the junction of Clacton Road and Colchester Road in St Osyth.

Streetlights have already been switched off in Colchester, Braintree and Chelmsford.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “Essex County Council has looked into the possibility of using LED lighting, however this would not be economically viable for a county of our size at present."

Clacton lights will go out at midnight on January 26.