People should have control over when street light are turned on and off in their own areas, opposition councillors claim.

Hertfordshire County Council’s highways and environment panel voted on Friday to for all street lights to be turned off at 1am – one hour later than the current time of midnight - following the conversion of all street lights in the county to energy-saving LEDs.

The Liberal Democrats proposed a 2am switch off, but this was rejected by the ruling Conservatives and replaced with 1am.

The Lib Dems called this a U-turn.

Lib Dem leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said: “We have always accepted that in some areas, mainly rural ones, residents might want the lights off at midnight.

“But in others, especially towns with a night-time economy and later arriving trains such as Watford and Stevenage, residents wanted them on later.

“We need to enable residents to walk home in safety with some lighting in the early hours.

"Whilst we welcome this U-turn by the Tories - we always said midnight was too early - 1am is still not good enough for our towns."

Under new measures, lights will be dimmed at 9pm and again at 11pm before being turned off at 1am.

Cllr Giles-Medhurst added: "We are disappointed that once again the Conservatives rejected local flexibility, especially as we now have the technology to allow for this.

“The Conservatives’ ‘one size fits all’ is just wrong for all of Hertfordshire’s million homes.

“We shall continue to press the case for a later turn-off."

Conservative leader of Hertsmere Borough Council Cllr Morris Bright said: “I have been a vociferous campaigner for lights to stay on until 1am in places that are used by commuters.

“People in Hertsmere were having to travel into the late hours from places like London.

“Now the technology is available residents should be able to take up the offer.”