Grantham

Lincolnshire fire crews have been back at the scene of a fire nearly a month on from the blaze starting in Long Bennington.

The fire at the waste centre on Fen Lane started in the early hours of September 21, spreading a large amount of smoke in the area.

Extra heavy plant machinery was brought in this week to spread out the remaining burning materials.

The fire which started a month ago is still being dealt with in a multi-agency response. | Photo: R.S. Mortiss

Newark & Sherwood District Council said this week that residents affected have received a letter from South Kesteven District Council. SKDC has also sent letters to local residents regarding the plans to tackle the fire.

Fire crews have dampened down around three quarters of one of the large piles of waste. | Photo: R.S. Mortiss

Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue have managed to spread out and damp down around three quarters of one of the large piles of waste. The Environment Agency is also involved as part of a multi-agency response.

Danny Moss, Area Manager at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, said: “We have developed our plans to tackle this fire in consultation with our partners. Extra heavy plant machinery has been brought in this week to spread out the remaining burning materials and speed up the process.

“Of course the site itself and any impacts from our firefighting will continue to be monitored by supporting partners to ensure we take any other action as needed.

“Following our initial work assisted by the heavy machinery we are making good progress and have managed to spread out and damp down approximately three quarters of one of the large piles of waste. Activities are being supported by partners with air monitoring in place and water run off being considered.

“We would like to thank local residents for their continued patience and support as realise that this has been and continues to be an inconvenience due to the conditions. We are committed to working with partners to minimise the impact for all.”

The site is located on Fen Lane in Long Bennington. | Photo: R.S. Mortiss

Two arrests were made after an excavator and a lorry were seized by the Environment Agency as lorry-loads of waste, including plastics, were being accepted onto the same site and burned illegally last year, according to Grantham Journal.

The fire involved shipping containers with recycling materials and two scrap vehicles.

Protestors were chanting “no ifs, no buts, no A&E cuts” as they made their feelings known against plans for Grantham and District Hospital’s A&E department to become a 24/7 urgent treatment centre.

NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group has launched a 12-week public consultation on a series of plans for orthopaedic surgery, urgent and emergency care in Grantham, acute medical beds and stroke services in the county. The proposals are also hoping to tackle a shortage of specialist doctors, nurses and therapists.

An engagement event was held at the Jubilee Church Life Centre in Grantham on the evening of Thursday, October 14 for people to share their views on the proposed changes that health bosses believe will improve services. The public consultation started on September 30 and will run for 12 weeks until December 23.

Bosses say the changes will result in better access to urgent and emergency care, shorter waiting times, fewer cancellations of planned procedures and better retention of staff. However, local campaigners do not agree.

Campaigners made their voices heard with megaphones, chanting and horns. One of the protestors, Melissa Darcey, told BBC Look North: “There is a vast difference between an urgent treatment centre and an A&E and we’ve effectively gone from a major trauma centre to a glorified GP surgery, so I just dispute their argument that this is improvement.

“The more they cut our services to the bone the more people will lose their lives.”

This is not the first time there have been protests over changes to the hospital in Grantham.

Thousands turned out to campaign against planned cuts in October 2005 and years of protests followed. The A&E department temporarily closed overnight in 2016, but that then became permanent, prompting campaigners to take a protest and a petition to Downing Street.

Last year A&E was temporarily closed to keep the hospital COVID safe, but campaigners said they had been vindicated after a High Court judge ruled that United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust did not consult properly when it downgraded Grantham Hospital into a coronavirus-free site.

Meanwhile, NHS Lincolnshire CCG said there will be another engagement event in Lincoln between 6.30pm-8pm on Saturday, October 16 to share your views on the proposed changes at the county’s hospitals. Book your place and see the upcoming list of consultation events here.

More than two-and-half-years have passed since planners approved a controversial statue of Margaret Thatcher in her home town of Grantham in Lincolnshire.

A 10 foot plinth on which the bronze statue will stand to deter vandals has stood empty for 18 months since it was erected on St Peter’s Hill.

The Douglas Jennings sculpture – which was unceremoniously rejected by Westminster Council – remains in storage at a secret location awaiting the ‘big day’ after it was acquired with public donations for £300,000.

But such is the Iron Lady’s controversial legacy – even in the town where she grew up – that an official unveiling date has still yet to be revealed.

And in the week which would have marked the 96th birthday of Grantham’s most famous daughter (born 13/10/25), residents still remain divided over the suitability of the statue.

The argument, which has raged for nearly two decades, is so fierce that at present only a small plaque above her father’s grocers store commemorates Baroness Thatcher’s links to Grantham.

Such is the split, that former Grantham mayor, Ian Selby, previously called for a referendum to finally decide if the town really wanted the statue.

The unveiling is expected to attract angry demonstrations, and there are fears that the statue will be a continual target for protests and possibly even damage or removal attempts, as was seen when a crowd tore down a statue to Bristol slave trader Edward Colston.

So seriously is the threat taken, that Lincolnshire Police warned the statue would need to be placed on a 10 feet high plinth to deter vandals.

In February, a local artist, Mark Robla, placed a carved plaster head of Thatcher on a pike on top of the empty plinth, saying he was saving the council money. Thousands of people also signed a petition calling for the statue to be egged once it is in place.

Mark’s own Thatcher statue depicts the Iron Lady with her head cut off and placed on a spike. | Photo: MarkRobla

Despite the potential for damage – it was initially hoped the long awaited Thacher statue would be unveiled by a ‘big’ Tory name in the Autumn of last year – but those plans were seemingly scuppered by the pandemic.

Plans for an unveiling ceremony were then based on a date in May, and then ‘later this year.’

In June the council applied for planning permission to cut a number of branches off trees, which are currently blocking CCTV camera sightlines to where the statue will be located.

However a spokesperson for South Kesteven District Council this week said there was still no update on the unveiling – despite the nationwide relaxation on COVID restrictions.

The plinth remains wrapped in tarpaulin and surrounded by security fencing. | Photo: Daniel Jaines for The Lincolnite

Ray Wootten, a retired police officer and district councillor for Grantham St Wulfram’s Ward, has been a long term supporter of the statute, but also confirmed he had no news on the unveiling.

So for the meantime the plinth remains wrapped in tarpaulin and surrounded by security fencing.

Some Grantham residents are now wondering if it would be better for the plinth to be left empty.

Factory manager, Duncan Attwood, 48, said: “The plinth has been empty for so long now, with fencing all around it, that I think people are beginning to wonder if the statue will ever go up at all.

“If it is going to cost lots of money to protect the statue then it might not be worth putting up in such a public spot.

“They won’t be able to protect it night and day.”

The unveiling itself became a source of controversy after it emerged that the local council was proposing to underwrite the estimated £100,000 the ceremony would cost with taxpayer money, taken from the authority’s Local Priorities Reserve.

That decision, which drew anger from local residents and opposition councillors, who described it as ‘nothing more than a party,’ was reversed at a council meeting in March.

The cost of the ceremony will now be raised by private donations.

An official unveiling date has still yet to be revealed. | Photo: Daniel Jaines for The Lincolnite

Margaret Thatcher (nee Roberts) was born and raised in Grantham and attended Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, before gaining a scholarship to study at Oxford University. Her father Alfred, a grocer, was mayor from 1945 to 1946.

The original application to erect the statue was formally proposed in 2018 by the Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), which manages and runs the Grantham Museum.

The statue was approved by South Kesteven District Council in February 2019, with just 17 objections, to be funded through a combination of contributions from The Public Memorials Trust and delivered by the GCHA Margaret Thatcher Appeal.

It will stand on St Peter’s Hill in Grantham town centre, next to a statue of Sir Isaac Newton.

Sculptor Douglas Jennings applying the finishing touches to the stature when it was created.

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