Councillors evacuated after ‘hot air’ at meeting

Fire engines arrive at the scene.
Fire engines arrive at the scene.
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“Hot air” during a meeting in Spalding was blamed when councillors were evicted into the car park after one of them smelled burning.

The 12 councillors, planners and members of the public were asked to leave the chamber at South Holland District Council after Coun Howard Johnson raised the alarm about 8.35pm.

They had just returned from a break following a heated discussion about whether Jeremy Chew should be allowed to speak ahead of his application for Spalding Rugby Club to change the use of agricultural land to pitches in Drain Bank South, Cowbit.

Mr Chew claimed the club had not been informed it had to notify the council if he wished to address members.

However, planning committee chairman Coun Roger Gambba-Jones said it would set a precedent if they made an exception and the request was denied.

However, when the council resumed the smell of burning became stronger and everyone was asked to gather in the car park while the source was investigated.

It had been thought the source could be the webcam equipment. IT projecting euipment was responsible for the cancellation of the previous meeting.

But as Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue had been called, Coun Gambba-Jones adjourned the meeting, leaving four planning applications and three other items to be heard at a later meeting.

These included Spalding Rugby Club’s application and plans to change the use of a site at Lefley’s Garage in Holbeach to build 51 dwellings and convert the Station House into four dwellings; a single storey garage extension in Birch Grove, Spalding, and the erection of 12 affordable dwellings off St Margaret’s in Quadring.

Coun Chris Brewis commented outside: “I can see the headlines now ‘Hot air at council causes fire’.

A spokesman for the council said: “After use of a thermal imaging camera by fire officers, checks of the air handling, boiler rooms and roof space it was concluded that the smell was actually external to the building and had permeated through the fresh air vents into the chamber.

“The council is satisfied with how the situation was handled by all concerned and gives its thanks to Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue.”

Spalding RFC’s plan will be considered by chairman’s panel next Friday.

The date of the next planning meeting will be Wednesday, September 25.