Bourne Road residents who were threatened with having their homes demolished for the Spalding Relief Road had a major victory this morning (Monday) after councillors ordered Lincolnshire County Council to make a u-turn on the route of the central section of the road.
The authority’s Highways and Transport Committee rejected the recommended option of demolishing nine homes for the route.
Instead they voted unanimously that the road should instead go through the site of the Trojan Wood factory.
Catherine and Frank Roberts, whose home was in the previously recommended path of the road, spoke to the committee on behalf of the Bourne Road residents and handed in a petition signed by 1,343 people asking for a rethink.
An emotional Catherine said after the meeting in Lincoln this morning: “I can’t wait to get back and tell all of us residents on the condemned line.
“I feel as though we can relax for Christmas now.
“It’s a shame the council Executive meeting isn’t until January and we’ve still got to go through that.
“But we are grateful to the councillors for listening to us and being understanding to our cause that effects our lives so much.”
She told the meeting bulldozing homes was an “absurd idea that this is morale and inhumane.”
With the petition she stated: “The one prized asset that you work all your life to own, can with the swipe of a pen in a council office be taken away from you.
“We all have our unique and personal reasons for wishing to remain in our homes, partners lost, family memories, children born, the list is endless, let alone the considerable financial investments we have made over the years.
“Please remember there are human beings underneath the felt tip line drawn on a map.”
County council officers had recommended the Relief Road go through the home because it said going through the Trojan Wood factory would cost £2.4m more and would also go against the recently introduced South East Lincolnshire Local Plan.
Three local councillors in Angela Newton, Elizabeth Sneath and Rodney Grocock all spoke in favour of the Relief Road going through the Trojan Wood site rather than the homes.
Coun Sneath said of the Bourne Road residents: “Finding out their homes were possibly going to be demolished was an absolute body blow, yet they have soldiered on and shown a kind of war time spirit of community strength and action, just as we would expect from the people of South Holland.
“There’s the choice of other routes, at least one of which is only a little more expensive in the road building world and we have closely studied the figures and believe that when everything is properly valued and assessed there will be very little, if any, difference between the cost of the Trojan Wood route and the demolition route.”
Coun Newton added: “Yes residents have been consulted, but they think they have been ignored.
“It seems the residents views have not been taken into account.”
Coun Grocock told the meeting that demolishing the homes was “beyond the pale”.
“I could never support the section that demolished nine homes,” he said.
Before the committee voted unanimously for the Trojan Wood route, Coun Mike Brookes said: “Having heard from Mr and Mrs Roberts, it’s quite clear local people don’t want this route option and for very good reasons and we should be trying to look at other routes.
“I know there’s issues regarding certain planning risks but I think they could be overcome.
“I know money matters in the grand scheme of things but the amount of money quoted is quite small and the compensation could be different (for the homes) in 10 to 15 years.”
Members of Spalding and Pinchbeck Against Relief Road (SPARR) were in attendance at the meeting to support Frank and Catherine.
The group’s Stacy Barneveld-Taylor, said afterwards: “£2.4m is not worth more than the psychological and emotional stress the residents of Bourne Road have suffered. That’s money well spent.
“It’s a small win but we have to continue the fight going forward.
“The Bourne Road residents have been great and in the early days with SPARR we wanted to convey a a united voice. It’s been great to support them.”