Archer questions why council leader is yet to re-instate Cllr Jan French after ‘supermarket-gate’ complaints withdrawn

SHE was the highest profile casualty of ‘supermarket-gate’ but with not a single allegation left standing, demands are growing for the re-instatement of Councillor Jan French to Fenland Council Cabinet.

Independent councillor Mark Archer even rose to quiz Council Leader Alan Melton about her continued absence from Cabinet.

At last week’s council meeting he insisted “Cllr French has been vindicated. If she is not being re-instated why not?”

Leader Alan Melton - who unceremoniously stripped of her coveted role on the planning committee and as the portfolio holder for planning- said it was his decision and that of his senior colleagues what now happened.

His decision to axe both her and fellow councillor Martin Curtis from the planning committee – and to stand down the rest of the committee- arose during the height of ‘supermarket-gate’ and after the committee meeting which approved both Tesco and Sainsbury’s.


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The insinuation was Cllr French had guided less experienced councillors into voting for Tesco and in doing so plunged the council into crisis.

It was also alleged she had spoken to Tesco representatives and pre warned Cabinet colleague Pop Jolley of her intentions to support Tesco.

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That she spoke to Cllr Jolley is not challenged but a Freedom of Information request to Fenland Council shows Cllr French is vindicated of any improper behaviour.

Asked whether Cllr Jolley had been quizzed about this conversation, the council responded that “no confirmed formal complaints in relation to this matter have been received.”

Cllr French has also been cleared by both Sainsbury’s and the development company heading their bid, Whitacre Management.

Bruce Smith of Whitacre confirmed that their complaint against Fenland Council over the store’s application was very much alive but he insisted they no longer had any complaint whatsoever against Cllr French.

Mr Smith told the council that there remains “a formal complaint against Fenland District Council and officers. I wish, however, to withdraw any reference to a complaint against Cllr French.”

Of the decision to re-run both Tesco and Sainsbury’s applications, Mr Smith told the council: “There seems to be a policy of not answering questions and a ‘bury our heads in the sands’ attitude. This problem is not going to go away. It will only get worse.

“Fenland Council must wake up and smell the roses before they become manure and Fenland is sitting on a pile of it.

“A simple ‘sorry lads we got it wrong let us all have a re-run’ simply will not wash.

“While you are at it ask England for a re-run of the Falklands War because Argentina lost.

“You have the same chance of success!”

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