A BID to hold a referendum over the controversial part-night lighting scheme has been panned by Tory-led Essex County Council.

Lib Dem Brentwood borough and county councillor David Kendall put forward the motion at a recent full council meeting that would’ve given residents a chance to express their views on the scheme that came into affect across the county towards the end of last year.

Mr Kendall suggested any potential referendum could’ve taken place at the same time as next year’s general election.

His motion was backed cross-party by all except the Tories.

Councillor David Kendall: "The residents of Essex have never been formally consulted on the principle of having their street lights switched off between 12am and 5am; the Tories have just rolled out their plans across the County regardless.

“My motion would have given those City, Borough and District Councils that wanted it an opportunity to hold a referendum on this important issue in their areas so that residents could express their views for and against through the ballot box.

“Sadly the Tories running Essex have shown once again they don't believe in democratic accountability and localism by denying residents a voice on this very important issue. They should be ashamed."

Councillor Rodney Bass, in charge of highways at County Hall, said a county council could not call a legally-binding referendum and could only commission an advisory one, but added officers were keeping up to date with alternative technology such as LED lights.

He added: “We did consult extensively with the emergency services and local councils. I have said it before and I say it again there is no evidence that crime has risen as a result.

“I think the Lib Dems are flogging a dead horse when they call for a referendum.”