Drastic council cost-cutting will see Watford neighbourhoods plunged into darkness at night as street lights are switched off from midnight to 6am.

However politicians behind the plan have come under fire for implementing the controversial measures while continuing to splash more than £100,000 a year on a glossy magazine.

Opposition councillors have branded the blackout plan “bonkers” and fear it could lead to rise in crime and road accidents in the town. Hertfordshire County Council has defended the scheme, saying it will save the taxpayer £1m a year and reduce the area’s carbon footprint.

Robert Gordon, Hertfordshire’s Conservative leader, also rebutted criticism about its continued spending on its home-delivered Horizons magazine, in which he has a column, saying it was an important means of communication with residents.

As part of a new attempt to save money, the county council has decided to turn off more than half of the street lights in Watford during the coming weeks.

Main roads, accident black spots, streets with high crime or speed bumps will remain lit, but most others will be hit by the outage.

The council said 4,400 of the 7,510 street lights in Watford will be turned off in phases over the next two weeks. However, it was unable to provide a list of streets that will be affected, when request by the Watford Observer.

The plan was lambasted by Ian Brandon, Green Party county councillor for Callowland and Leggatts, who said: “This idea is completely bonkers. “It is a recipe for increased crime and danger.

“There is a huge amount of pedestrian usage of some parts of Watford especially between midnight and 2am most nights – whether it be people walking back from the town centre, or from Watford Junction after an evening in London.

“The council will lose any savings as soon as people start to trip over uneven pavements in the pitch dark and start claiming compensation.”

Watford’s Labour party said it was against the switch off calling it a gamble. Nigel Bell, who represents the Vicarage area said the council should cut its magazine and public relations budget before cutting the power to Watford’s street lights.

He said: “I don’t think it is worth it for the money that will be saved – we should look at other ways to save money.

"Of course it is important to communicate with residents but they should put more information online.

“The amount of money they spend on PR needs to be looked at and that should be cut down.” Hertfordshire County Council currently spends £113,280 a year on three issues of Horizons magazine, a glossy magazine delivered to 472,000 households across the county a year.

Robert Gordon, leader of Hertfordshire County Council, highlighted the importance of the glossy magazine, which went out this week featuring Alesha Dixon on the front page.

“Horizons is an important means of communicating with residents in Hertfordshire,” he said.

“It carries all the latest information about the county council so residents know how to access the facilities and services they need.

It is also a way of being accountable to our residents by showing how we are spending taxpayers' money.

”We are very open about the cost of Horizons and we take appropriate advertising in the magazine to keep costs as low as possible.”

In the lead-up to this month’s switch off Hertfordshire Constabulary said it had worked closely with the council to make sure the lights stayed on in crime hotspots.

Watford’s Liberal Democrat Mayor Dorothy welcomed the participation of the police in the light-switch off preparations.

She said her party would have preferred the lights to go out at 1am instead of midnight, but that it was not opposing the scheme.

“We are all in bed when this is happening,” she added. “What are people really worried about, burglaries, happen during broad daylight.”