Leader hits back at leaflet claims

PUBLISHED: 12:28 27 April 2007 | UPDATED: 22:46 28 May 2010

GEOFF HARPER

GEOFF HARPER

COUNCILLOR Geoff Harper, leader of Fenland District Council, has written an open letter to all Liberal Democrat candidates in next week s council election, expressing disappointment at statements published in their leaflets and accusing them of misinformi

COUNCILLOR Geoff Harper, leader of Fenland District Council, has written an open letter to all Liberal Democrat candidates in next week's council election, expressing disappointment at statements published in their leaflets and accusing them of misinforming the electorate.

In his letter, Cllr Harper denies suggestions that the council lost £17million last year, pointing out that such a statement shows ignorance of how local government works. "If £17million had been lost don't you think someone would have noticed," he says, "particularly the auditors?"

The Lib-Dems also accused the council of not collecting £1million from developers in Section 106 money. This, too, is denied.

Cllr Harper explains that the council's system for collecting this money was investigated and the cash was collected. "Section 106 money can only be collected when it is due," he says.

And as for being too slow spending the Section 106 cash, Cllr Harper explains that money spent has to be "maximised along with other funding opportunities and to ensure proper consultation with the community". And he adds: "This takes time and negotiation with all our partners."

In response to criticism that the council pays £1million to its top 10 staff members, he says that the council pays the rate for the job and has to recruit from the same market as other councils.

Cllr Harper refutes allegations that the council "fables" its satisfaction ratings, stressing that Fenland Council is one of the national leaders in public consultation and that its one-stop shops have a satisfaction rating of 97 per cent, a statement endorsed by the Audit Commission.

Expensive consultants were not employed to create the council's logo. It was created by an in-house working party; and the three-bin refuse collection system was not foisted on the public without proper consultation. Not only was there extensive consultation, but extensive trials took place in Chatteris for more than a year.

He denies promising that a recording of the last council meeting would appear on the council's website.

And in reply to the claim that occupiers of band C properties in Fenland pay nearly half as much again in Council Tax as their East Cambs and Huntingdon counterparts, he explains that the average band in Fenland is B not C and that the average Fenland Council Tax bill is the lowest in Cambridgeshire and the 36th lowest in the country.

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