THE war memorial at the end of Cookham High Street could soon be illuminated in a bid to scare off car thieves who are fond of targetting the dark and quiet area.

Cookham Parish Council will vote on whether or not to light up the memorial at its meeting next Wednesday, after a residents' survey revealed that many people in the village are in favour of the lights.

PC Valentine DeHann, beat officer for Cookham, said: "What we have done is put up solutions to the problem we have in the village of the theft of motor vehicles. That area attracts people who use the pubs for a drink or users of the shop but they are targets for people who steal their cars.

"So we have suggested that the area around the memorial, where people park their cars, is lit up. We did a similar thing at the Sutton Road car park and it seems to have worked."

He added: "Local authorities have a statutory duty to reduce crime."

The police and the council worked together to conduct a survey on the proposal some two or three weeks ago.

They sent out letters to people in the post and, according to Cllr Mike Wellman, the residents' reaction to the proposal has been quite positive.

He said: "Most of the shopkeepers are for it but in the past a lot of residents have been a bit anti.

"But we have done a survey and, after having quite a few letters back, it seems that a lot more of the residents are now in favour of it."

Viv Mitchell, manager of Ribbons and Pearls in the Arcade in the High Street, said: "We are absolutely behind it. There's a bit of disagreement between businesses and residents as I believe some people are worried that the light could keep there windows lit at night, but there was a period over the winter when every day a car was having its window smashed. And the light helps to keep our belongings safe. Last year one of the Arcade's front windows was smashed in with a hammer and no one was ever caught."

She added: "It will also help stop drivers from speeding down the High Street. A lot of them think it's just another dark, country road."

Sue Sharp, who has just opened up the Merkaba gift shop in the Arcade, added: "I would not like to wander around this area at night because it is so dark."