A petition has been started in Swanscombe to block a "ridiculous" trial scheme to switch off street lights in the area at night.

Residents are concerned turning the lights off between midnight and 5.30am will increase crime and anti-social behaviour.

Kent County Council’s Sensible Street Lighting Plan has already been rolled out across Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells and is now being trialled for a year in Gravesham and Dartford.

Swanscombe Councillor Steve Doran said: "I have every sympathy with the aims of the scheme and where street lights are fulfilling no useful purpose it makes perfect sense to switch them off.

"However, Swanscombe is not such a case.

"The crime rate makes it a completely inappropriate place to pilot this scheme, which could have devastating repercussions for the residents there.

"I’m sure if the residents had been properly consulted this would have come out strongly."

Swanscombe resident Corinne Baker, 30, started the petition and says KCC, who posted notices online, could have done more to let residents know about the plans.

She said: "Crime is a massive issue in Swanscombe.

"The petition is a protest to get to the decision makers to get this trial scheme suspended because it’s just ridiculous.

"I hear about crime every day. People are getting burgled while they sleep – their garden sheds are getting burgled even during the day."

"Having lived in Swanscombe for 30 years and knowing a large number of residents, I’m not aware of anyone that was even consulted about the scheme, let alone was in favour of the scheme.

"It is the council’s duty to make us aware of anything that’s going to be altered."

Ms Baker was joined by Coun Doran in taking the petition door-to-door on Saturday and Sunday, gaining 160 signatures to go with 279 online.

The petition will be presented to KCC later this month and it comes after a group of Gravesend residents branded the scheme "utter madness", as reported in News Shopper last week.

KCC says the move will save £6.4 million.

David Brazier, Kent County Council cabinet member for transport and environment, said: "We consulted widely on this and it’s obvious there is support for the idea of reducing energy use and for the hours we will part-night light.

"Our approach has always been a common sense one - we don’t need to light street lamps when they are not being used and after all you don’t leave your lights on at home when you go to bed."

A KCC interactive map shows the exact roads affected at kent.gov.uk/streetlights