A COUNCIL economy measure to plunge a major Wirral approach road into darkness by switching off street lights has been condemned as “madness” by a leading Tory councillor.

Wallasey Cllr Leah Fraser said she had been inundated with emails and telephone calls from people forced to drive in the dark along the North Wallasey Approach Road between Bidston Moss Interchange and Bayswater Road.

She said: “It’s frightening for motorists to suddenly drive from brightly lit roads into pitch blackness.

“It is extremely dangerous - someone is going to be killed.”

Councillor Fraser said the situation was made worse by a pedestrian refuge being sited in the darkened stretch.

She said: “Drivers just can’t see the refuge. It goes dark now at about 4-30pm yet people are still crossing there with their dogs to get to the North Wirral Country Park entrance.

“On top of that it is very hard for people to see cyclists on the dual carriageway with the lights switched off.”

Councillor Fraser claimed that the switch off decision had been made without public consultation and she has contacted Wirral Council chief executive Graham Burgess in a bid to get it reversed.

Councillor Harry Smith, Wirral Council cabinet member for streetscene and transport services, said the £85,000 savings achieved by switching off certain street lights were part of a £22m economy package forced on the local authority this year by the governing coalition.

He commented: “The economies must hit somewhere. It is not something we want to do, but we are forced to do it because of our financial situation.”

Councillor Smith added: “Leah Fraser would be better employed in approaching her government to retract the millions of pounds of savings they are forcing us to make.

“It is an unfair situation when councils in the south have barely been touched and councils up north have been hammered almost to death.”