Fenland council job up for grabs as questions asked over previous postholder

Fenland Hall.

Fenland Hall. - Credit: Archant

Ever fancied the chance to have a say in the way local councillors behave and are punished for any misdemeanours they commit?

Then a job currently on offer with Fenland District Council could be the answer.

The council is currently offering the post of ‘Independent Person’ on its conduct committee with a salary of £1,000 a year following the resignation of the previous position holder Anne Hay.

But questions are being asked by Wisbech independent councillor Virginia Bucknor over the way Mrs Hay was appointed as she has since become a Conservative council candidate.

Applicants must be completely independent and must have no close links with any councillor or officer, they must not have been a councillor or officer with FDC within the last five years and have no affiliation with local party politics.

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Mrs Hay, who was appointed in January 2013 following a recruitment process overseen by three members of the conduct committee, resigned to stand as a Conservative for election to FDC for The Mills Ward in Chatteris and has been elected unopposed.

Cllr Bucknor wrote in an email to council officers including chief executive Paul Medd: “You will appreciate that from most people’s perspective, it does look a little suspicious and at the very least a flawed selection procedure.”

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In response Carol Pilson, Fenland’s corporate director and monitoring officer, said: “When Anne was approached to stand for election this year, she informed me that this had occurred and tendered her resignation as the Independent Person. She had not at any point before this indicated to me that she was involved in party political activity therefore she would have still qualified until that point at which her circumstances changed.”

Cllr Bucknor still wants to know who the three councillors were who appointed Mrs Hay and when exactly she joined the Conservative party, and whether this was while she was on the committee.

The job, which was advertised in this paper for the past two weeks, comes with a £1,000 salary. The person will help deal with complaints about parish, town and district councillors and help ensure ‘high standards of conduct’ are maintained.

The conduct committee met three times last year and also in 2013 but has already met twice this year.

Issues range from a row over flower tubs in Benwick and the way parish councillors behaved, to allegations of ‘bullying’ in Wisbech and bringing the council into disrepute in Manea.

Closing date for applications is 4.30pm on Friday May 1. For further information visit www.fenland.gov.uk or call 01354 654321 for an application form.

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