Gross misconduct allegation as Fenland Council suspends its �65,000 a year planning supremo

FENLAND Council has suspended its �65,000 a year head of development services following allegations of gross misconduct.

Quite what Derek (Des) McKenzie is alleged to have done today remained a mystery although a spokesman insisted that he “is still on the payroll, still employed by Fenland District Council”.

The shock suspension of Mr McKenzie comes a fortnight after he delivered a speech in Cambridge on the future of Fenland’s planning services.

He said the “current planning system is over complicated” and told how Fenland Council had “ripped up the guide book”.

His vision for Fenland was for it to become a council which promotes “freedom, flexibility and innovation”. By reducing the number of layers within the development plan, he said, Fenland looked to achieve annual savings of up to �250,000.

Mr McKenzie has told friends he is shocked by his suspension.

He believes he has achieved more in six months than his predecessors did in 10 years in turning around the planning department.

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Mr McKenzie, whose friends consider him to have a “combative and engaging personality”, expects to be cleared of any wrong doing and to be back at Fenland Hall soon.

In recent months the department has undergone massive rationalisation.

Nick Seaton, building control manager- and ironically Fenland manager of the year in the 200 staff awards- and Nigel Brown, delivery development manager, have both been made redundant.

Some sources claim that Mr McKenzie, a former head of planning at North East Lincolnshire Council, is not thought to have adapted back into local government following a spell in the private sector.

His most recent post was as head of planning and business excellence for Nakheel of Dubai.

The United Arab Emirates company builds hotels, shops and homes and created and developed the Palm Juneirah dubbed the ‘eighth wonder of the world’.

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