EXCLUSIVE: Fenland Tories plot vote of no confidence in Melton but will they dare take it to a vote next week?
- Credit: Archant
A PLOT to oust Councillor Alan Melton as leader of Fenland Council could be attempted as early as next week.
Phone calls from Tory councillors in recent weeks have been gathering support for a vote of no confidence in Cllr Melton and his likely replacement by Councillor John Clark.
Ironically it is the aftermath of ‘supermarketgate’ that has partly sparked the leadership challenge which saw councillors such as Martin Curtis and Jan French removed from planning and Councillor Phil Hatton sacked as planning committee chairman.
Main instigator of the plot against Cllr Melton appears to centre on Councillor David Connor, deputy chairman of the planning committee whose has seethed resentment that he was overlooked as chairman when Cllr Hatton was sacked. Indeed Cllr Connor prepared the ground to take over as chairman.
Cllr Connor had hoped Cllr Hatton would be replaced and by him and not, as eventually happened, by Councillor Alex Miscandlon.
Many calls to Tories have been made by Cllr Connor but Tories I have spoken to insist that he has told them he is the messenger not the mainstay of the campaign.
Councillor Will Sutton is also thought to have suggested it’s time for a change and he is known to be a supporter and friend of Cllr Clark.
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Cllr Clark is portfolio holder for finance and a key member of Cllr Melton’s Cabinet and has insisted to colleagues he is not involved in any bid to remove the current leader.
However Cllr Clark, who lost by only 10 votes to Cllr Melton in the leadership battle two years ago, has also said he would stand if circumstances changed.
The one councillor who might have been angrier than most at recent developments – Cllr Hatton- has stepped back.
He was furious when called in by Cllr Melton and deputy leader Chris Seaton and fired as chairman. It was, he told colleagues, unfair, unjust and out of the blue.
Cllr Hatton is angry on two fronts- that Cllr Melton wanted him to say publicly he resigned and secondly that his long time friend Cllr Seaton hadn’t forewarned him.
He has said the offer of a Cabinet post was not possible since his work commitments didn’t allow it and Cllr Melton knew that any way.
Today, however, he is said to bear “no resentment” against Cllr Melton, having used the time since to expand his business. He’s not likely though to support him in a leadership battle.
County council leader Martin Curtis, sacked ignominiously by Cllr Melton as vice chairman of planning last year, is almost certain to back Cllr Clark for leader.
Councillor Peter Tunley has been expressing resentment at enhanced payments to some Cabinet members for doing extra work- jobs he feels should be more fairly shared.
One councillor told me tonight: “The problem with Alan is that he let all these issues fester and not tackled them. It may be too late but we’ll see.”
Tory councillors meet in eight days time but if a challenge is to be made seven days notice will be necessary- and that means tomorrow is the final opportunity for a no confidence vote to be tabled.