Please allow me to keep my children safe

Kate Cairns and her children Leif, Lys and Jake beside the wall around their garden at Newton Barns.
Kate Cairns and her children Leif, Lys and Jake beside the wall around their garden at Newton Barns.

A mother who has campaigned to save lives on the roads since her cyclist daughter was killed by a lorry in a notorious case has lost a fight to protect her grandchildren from traffic near their home.

Heather Cairns has pleaded with councillors to let her other daughter Kate keep a rebuilt front wall at the 1930s bungalow in countryside near Newton by the Sea, but the family have been told by highways officials it compromises road safety.

Eilidh Cairns, 30, died when Joao Correia-Lopes drove into her in London in February 2009. He admitted driving without corrected vision and the judge told him to wear glasses. He had also broken the law on driving hours. Correia-Lopes was not charged with causing Eilidh’s death.

He continued to have ‘numerous accidents’, a later court was told, until he killed again. For causing the death of 97-year-old Nora Gutman in June 2011 he was jailed for four years.

Mrs Cairns, a former senior district councillor at Alnwick, went to the town’s council chamber to urge the north area planning committee to approve the new wall, which has already been built.

The family installed a solid brick wall to replace one consisting of pillars with gaps between, linked with metal bars, but county highways officers recommended refusing permission. They said the gaps in the original wall had given some sight of traffic for drivers pulling out of the driveway, but the new wall’s solid design and a cap stone made it even harder to see along the road.

Mrs Cairns, her voice cracking with emotion, said: “We campaign for safety measures continuously. We are never going to put any road users at hazard.

“I am here tonight to ask you to keep my grandchildren safe – safe to play in their garden without the noise, visual impact and fumes of traffic and I have to say this week, sadly, from peering eyes.”

Kate Cairns said her application was supported by RoadPeace, the charity they have supported since her sister’s death. “All I ask is that you please allow me to keep my children safe.”

She has three children aged two, five and six. Eleven supporters wrote to the council on her behalf.

Councillors, who had visited the site at Newton Barns, voted five-one to refuse permission. Only Coun Anthony Murray voting to approve the wall.

Coun Trevor Thorne said he could see why Kate Cairns and her husband had built the wall. “However, in planning terms we would be going against our highways officer if we allowed the wall to exist at this height.”

He hoped a modification of the design could solve the problem.