Relief road plan letters - Lincs Free Press, Tuesday, June 4, 2019
RELIEF ROAD PLAN
A circus with a ringmaster
I attended the planning meeting at the South Holland District Council offices along with a packed gallery of Spalding residents who are opposed to the misnamed Spalding Western Relief Road.
I wish to record that Sir John Hayes MP was in attendance, finding time in his busy schedule to support us, as he has done right from the start of this fiasco, and I thank him for that.
With regard to the meeting itself, my first thoughts took me to a song from Evita “Oh What A Circus”. We even had a ringmaster.
I scanned the room as the two eloquent spokespersons from SPARR made their excellent presentations. The members of the planning committee appeared to be listening but from that point on it was quite obvious that most of them totally dismissed the valid arguments that were presented.
I wish to show my appreciation for the points raised by councillors James Avery and Sally Slade but even they seemed to incur a certain amount of hostility and ridicule from some quarters.
As usual we had a mixture of fact and fiction from the planning representatives, one of them even implying that when the traffic from 1,000 new properties spills out of the cul de sac onto Spalding Road it will have no detrimental impact on journey times. What planet is he on?
What was the point in having two environmental experts at the meeting, when all questions put to them through the chair, were deflected and batted away by the chairman? Perhaps he was concerned that their answers might not be what he wished us to hear.
Needless to say both sections (cul de sacs) were green flagged with no objections.
This was not really a proper planning meeting, merely a rubber stamping exercise.
Another thing that I found both annoying and embarrassing on at least two occasions was the feeble and very rude attempts by the chairman to ridicule and belittle members of the committee who were trying to make valid points.
Most of the people in the gallery live in the Wygate ward, and it is very disappointing to know that our two councillors are not supporting us on this emotive matter, in fact they seem to be hell bent on making our lives as miserable as possible, one of them even stating that we could be seen as “nimbys”.
I would challenge them to point out one thing that they have achieved to enhance our lives.
My personal feeling is that we have absolutely no effective representation on the Wygate ward and I urge them both to resign their positions with immediate effect.
May I add that we have had excellent support from four councillors from other wards.
Volume of public protest not surprising
No-one involved with the proposed Spalding Western Relief Road was unaware of concerns about it, following the various consultations. Nor should they be surprised at the volume of public protest that has now erupted. As early as 2011, along with others, we were highlighting the absurdity of a bypass with two ends and no middle. No middle, that is, until some indeterminate date - 25 years maybe, says County Hall airily. Not only is it an offence against common sense - like building two roads up to the Humber and no bridge - but, without a middle, far from relieving congestion in the centre of Spalding, it can only make things worse.
It could hardly be otherwise, with the increased traffic generated by huge housing developments projected for north of the Vernatt’s and more frequent level-crossing down-times planned by Network Rail.
Along with others, we have repeatedly made these points in response to consultations on the Spalding Transport Strategy and on the new Local Plan, both in writing and face-to-face with officers involved.
And, indeed, our concerns were confirmed by a study made in 2016 by the Lincolnshire Highways Alliance. With an incomplete SWRR, it concluded, the traffic generated by the huge northern developments will “remain within the-urban area of Spalding causing longer delays at junctions”, and “Pinchbeck Road does not presently have the capacity to cater for the higher level of traffic”.
We also find it unacceptable for Pinchbeck to lose its identity, swallowed up as a suburb of a greater Spalding, with the loss of green space and prime agricultural land.
In vain. These deeply flawed proposals went ahead into the new Local Plan.
But it’s not the planners’ fault in the end. It’s the government’s. In its belief that key local infrastructure is best left to private developers to finance, in return for planning permission to build huge swathes of housing.
No-one knows when the middle section of the road will be built - if at all - because no-one knows when it will suit the whim or wallet of some developer or other.
In the past, central government accepted its responsibilities for key local infrastructure, unlike now. Had it not done so in the 1980s, we should have had no eastern bypass, with the centre of Spalding destroyed, smashed about to try to accommodate the snarled-up juggernauts of the A16.
We have tried. Perhaps, with hindsight, when they were examining the new Local Plan, we should have confronted the inspectors face-to-face with the kind of absurdity that can arise from leaving it to developers to finance community infrastructure.
With the Local Plan now adopted, views have been sought on two possible alignments for the central section of the road, which may or may not be built. The Civic Society responded that it is essential the road is completed long before 2036 (when the Local Plan expires).
To avoid demolishing people’s homes, we suggested an alternative route: the northern section to continue alongside the Vematt’s to Pode Hole, to meet the southern section, which would have followed along the line of South Drove.
Now that Sir John Hayes is seeking to have the proposals ‘called in’ for a decision at government level, we hope the opportunity can also be taken to bring home to the minister the folly of the present system of financing key local infrastructure. Two roads to nowhere and a phantom between.
John Bland, David Jones and John Charlesworth
Spalding and District Civic Society
Help us get his sacrifice remembered
I am hoping to trace any descendants or relations of Harry Facer, who died in 1919 whilst awaiting discharge from the Army.
Whilst researching on behalf of Lincolnshire Family History Society I came across an article in the newspaper archives which detailed the death and subsequent military funeral in Spalding cemetery of Mr Facer.
He is in an unmarked grave. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has no record of him.
They have asked for more proof of his eligibility and we are assembling full details to pass on to the Commission, who will then consider adding him to their records.
Harry, born in Kimbolton, was a saddler and lived on London Road, he married Ada Hardy in Spalding on December 24, 1906 and they had three children, Phyllis, born 1910, Harry, born 1912 and Jack, born in 1915.
It would be nice to know his descendants approve of our action in getting recognition.
Cheryl M Arnold
The Royal British Legion