Independent councillor accuses leader of exerting “undue pressure” to get 38 homes plan approved

Mark Archer

Mark Archer - Credit: Archant

COUNCIL leader Alan Melton has been accused of exerting “a huge amount of undue pressure” to persuade a planning committee to accept a scheme for 38 affordable homes in Manea.

Cllr Alan Melton with Cllr Seaton (right) and Euro MEP Geoffrey van Orden

Cllr Alan Melton with Cllr Seaton (right) and Euro MEP Geoffrey van Orden - Credit: Archant

Independent councillor Mark Archer claims that it was “improper” for Cllr Melton to directly intervene.

Cllr Archer’s complaint to the conduct committee of Fenland Council will be heard next Wednesday.

“This is against the background of public statements on both TV and radio in which he stated that he did not involve himself directly in planning matters and that as leader it would be improper for him to do so,” said Cllr Archer.

The Williams Way scheme was opposed by Cllr Archer, the parish council and some residents who claimed it would “intrude” on their privacy.

Cllr Archer said he believed the leader’s “direct intervention, his continued contributions and presence during the debate, exerted a huge amount of undue pressure.

“It may well have influenced or was seen to have unduly influenced the outcome of the voting.”

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Cllr Melton has told Alan Pain, the monitoring officer that he had advised officers that he intended to speak in the debate.

He reminded councillors of the need for affordable homes but at “no time did I try to intimidate members of the committee.”

He said the proposition to approve the application came from two opposition members whilst one local Tory councillor voted against.

“Hardly as a result of my so called interference!” retorted Cllr Melton.

Councillor Alex Miscandlon, new planning committee chairman, said Councillors Melton, Pop Jolley and John Chambers “were talking to each other possibly a little too loud. I asked them to quieten down which is what they did.

“I did not at any time feel influenced or pressured by the discussions that were going on behind me. As such I made my decision on the evidence presented at the time.”