Melton will revel in new form of Toryism after removing planning protocols

IF ever a man was destined to put the cat amongst the pigeons it was Fenland District Council leader Alan Melton and his speech in Wisbech on Tuesday.

Cllr Melton was addressing the fourth annual Building and Design Awards co-promoted by this paper and he used the occasion to, effectively, remove many protocols associated with delays in construction.

The headlines thus far have concentrated on his axing of expensive archaeological surveys and the creation of a ‘can do’ culture associated with bringing more homes and jobs to the Fens.

But underlying the headline grabbing inducements was a vision of a Fenland in which the onus for responsible building moves from the council to the developer.

It will be up to the developer to prepare the way for road changes, it will be up to developers to ensure infrastructure is in place once new estates are finished and it will be up to developers to up the game in terms of quality construction.

No longer should families moving into Fenland housing developments - as has happened all too often in the past - find themselves unable to access their homes because the builder has gone bust before paying for street lamps or for footpaths.

Residents in March, Manea, Wisbech and Christchurch – to name but four places - can point to homes being finished and people moving in only to find the money is not there to complete the infrastructure.

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Cllr Melton says new and tougher rules will make that a thing of the past – and not before time.

With his “Polar bears down the Nene” and “bunny huggers” jibes Cllr Melton will, as he would no doubt have predicted, have made himself hugely unpopular in some quarters but will be revelling in the acclaim of a new form of Toryism that delights in tearing up rule books and courting controversy.

Now comes the rather trickier task of turning rhetoric into deeds.

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