MELTON: My ‘re-designed and re-jigged’ planning committee coming together quite nicely and in time for November, thank you

FENLAND Council leader Alan Melton accepted tonight he had no power to remove two Opposition councillors from his planning committee- and insisted he had never sacked any committee member in the first place.

He was responding to questioning from Lib Dem councillor Gavin Booth who feared the row over ‘supermarket-gate’ at Whittlesey was attracting national attention.

Cllr Melton insisted he had “never used the word sacked. What I am doing is re-designing and re-jigging the planning committee.” It would be up to strength at the November meeting “with all members fully trained”.

It is thought Cllr Melton may be about to reduce the number on his planning committee following the decision to sack two members and to insist two Cabinet members no longer serve on the committee.

Cllr Booth told a full council meeting that the leader should have made it clear his rulings only ever affected members of the controlling Conservative group.

“People are very angry,” said Cllr Booth. “This has a serious impact on this council and our job must to be safeguard the assets of this council for which we are custodians. We cannot be wasting our resources.”

The ‘supermarket gate’ row dominated much of the debate with independent councillor Mark Archer questioning if another council could be called in to resolve the issue of whether Tesco or Sainsbury’s can build in Whittlesey.

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Cllr Melton said it would be difficult to achieve and beset with technical difficulties.

Councillor Fred Yeulett, chairman of the conduct committee which will consider allegations against some members, wanted to know how much Fenland had paid for counsel’s opinion on ‘supermarket-gate’.

Cllr Melton replied the council was “paying very expensively” for advice which to date supported internal advice previously offered by the council’s own officers.

The leader explained that once the legal costs were finalised they would be revealed.

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