Councillors agree Wisbech decisions must go back to full council

CRUCIAL decisions over the future of Wisbech Market Place and the threatened move of the Horsefair taxi rank in the town are once again in the offing.

Fenland District Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee took the debate to Wisbech today and agreed after a heated discussion the whole issue should be referred back to the full council for further debate.

It had been the first time a decision had been ‘called in’, a process which enables councillors to review decisions taken on their behalf by Cabinet.

Although today’s meeting had no power to amend or alter the decision, it did use its influence to insist implementation of any proposals is halted until it is again thrown open for debate by the council.

Following the council’s decision next month, whatever that may be, it will once again be referred back to Cabinet.

Cabinet had previously agreed for a survey into taxis at the Horsefair pending the possible move of the taxi rank and for the near full pedestrianisation of the market place.

Councillor Dave Patrick, the recently elected Liberal councillor for Wisbech and local taxi drivers’ leader, said he was pleased with the outcome today.

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“The debate was quite heated but we are pleased the status quo remains until it is once again debated by the council,” he said.

He said taxi drivers had met recently to formulate proposals for self regulation of parking on the Horsefair.

Meanwhile the committee heard claims that Cabinet had not fully considered proposals for the market place considered by an earlier overview and scrutiny review team. They also questioned whether Cabinet had fully appreciated recommendations for the market place- known as option two and involving greater vehicle access- which had also been the preference of the area joint traffic committee.

Councillor Jan French, who chaired today’s meeting, described the process as an “absolutely transparent” exercise to take on board all views and to examine everything in a public and open forum.

A council spokesman said the purpose of today’s meeting was to scrutinise the decision which has been made by Cabinet.

“The panel had to consider whether or not there are substantive concerns in relation to the way the decision was made or the decision reached,” he said.

“The scrutiny panel was not necessarily looking at the overall policy within which the decision is set, but the actual decision itself.”

Now the matter has been referred back” the council does not actually make the decision; rather it acts as a second scrutiny process, to make comments on the proposal before referring it back to Cabinet.

“At all points the final decision rests with the Cabinet, after taking into account the comments raised within the scrutiny process.”

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