Councillor explains herself after admitting speeding through Waltham on the Wolds

Melton borough councillor for the Waltham ward Elaine Holmes (Ind) EMN-151112-121852001
Melton borough councillor for the Waltham ward Elaine Holmes (Ind) EMN-151112-121852001
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A councillor who raised concerns at a planning meeting about a “dangerous” main road leading through a village in the ward she represents revealed she had recently been caught speeding there herself.

Melton borough councillor and planning committee member Elaine Holmes, who represents the Waltham ward, made her comments during a debate on a planning application to build up to 45 new homes on land off the A607 in Waltham on the Wolds, south-east of Grantham.

She said: “As ward councillor I go along that road very often. I was caught the other day going at 39 mph. I beg you to listen to me, I know how dangerous that road is.

“It worries me these houses will come on to the A607. If this application was going to go through we must look at having a much safer access.”

She added: “It’s too many houses and the rural character of this village would be totally altered. I’m also incredibly disappointed this application does not help the school.”

Councillor John Wyatt, who proposed for the application to be approved, said Coun Holmes “should be ashamed of herself” after revealing she had been caught speeding.

He added: “I don’t see too much speeding there. I think it’s a reasonably safe road.”

Speaking to this newspaper after the meeting, Coun Holmes explained her comments about her own speeding incident.

She said: “It was probably about two or three weeks ago on the outskirts of Waltham going into the village, just after the big 30mph sign. I think I was doing lower than 39mph, it could have been 35mph.

“It was a practice exercise and I stopped voluntarily to talk to the policeman, I wasn’t fined or anything like that.

“I’m not ashamed to say I did it and I’m not trying to defend myself. I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it at the meeting but I was trying to make the point about how fast traffic goes along that road and it gets worse all the time.

“I never whizz through the village but if I, someone who knows the village, was going over 30mph, what about people who don’t know about it?”

Before the planning committee members entered their debate on the application for a housing development in the village, they heard from a number of speakers. Among them, on behalf of Waltham on the Wolds and Thorpe Arnold Parish Council, was parish councillor Martin Lusty.

Mr Lusty, who is also chairman of the steering group set up to formulate the Waltham on the Wolds and Thorpe Arnold Neighbourhood Parish Plan, said: “Most importantly these are new family homes. The school is on the other side of the A607. Incredibly, there’s no traffic calming measure and it doesn’t provide safe crossing for children.”

Other concerns raised by Mr Lusty included groundwater flooding and loss of village environment.

Speaking on behalf of Waltham residents, Natalie Robert told councillors: “We don’t consider this is a suitable location for the number of homes being put forward. Our view is that the extra traffic and new access will make the road more hazardous, with more children trying to cross the road. It’s far too high a number of homes for one single location.

“The impact on a beautiful part of the borough will be devastating and irreversible.”

Speaking on behalf of the applicant was Guy Longley, of Pegasus Urban Design. He said: “The Highways Authority has no objections and, in relation to access, a central island to the north-east of the site has been provided.

“There are no objections from statutory bodies regarding flooding and there are no adverse impacts to outweigh the benefits.”

After much debate, the planning committee narrowly voted, by five votes to four, to refuse the application on four grounds, including that the development would generate additional pedestrian use (including children crossing) and increased traffic on the A607 which would increase the risk of accidents and be severely detrimental to road safety. The other reasons were insufficient provision of affordable housing, over-development of the site and insufficient contributions towards community infrastructure.