Planning boss tells councillor his ‘outright threat’ means supermarket debate will go to Wisbech St Mary NOT Whittlesey

PLANNING boss Phil Hatton told Councillor Martin Curtis today that his “outright threat” had ensured January’s meeting to discuss ‘supermarket-gate’ would definitely not be held in Whittlesey.

“I have never succumbed to threats in all my business life and will not succumb now,” said Cllr Hatton, chairman of Fenland District Council Planning Committee

In a clear reference to Cllr Curtis he said he would not countenance “an outright threat that unless the meeting was held at Whittlesey he would bring Whittlesey to Fenland Hall”

Cllr Hatton spoke out after blaming Cllr Curtis for the decision to hold next month’s Whittlesey supermarket ‘finale’ at Wisbech St Mary.

“I trust you will make it clear to Whittlesey residents that one of the main reasons for not coming to Whittlesey is down to one of their own councillors,” said Cllr Hatton.


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The planning committee chairman said the venue for January’s meeting was only decided on Wednesday and although Wisbech St Mary was an idea put forward by Cabinet it was not for them to have the final say.

“The whole idea of having a discussion after the planning committee on Wednesday was to get members views on the most suitable location,” said Cllr Hatton.

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“There were various views and in the end I put it to an informal vote. There were 12 members left as it didn’t concern councillors Archer and Patrick as they have made their decision not to sit on the supermarket applications.

“The informal vote was 6/6 including myself. But all new members to the committee who were not present and experienced the Whittlesey meeting were in favour of Whittlesey.

“The first meeting on the May 9 was at Fenland Hall which accommodated the public easily and was a very calm and controlled meeting but was surprisingly deferred for further reports.

“The second meeting was requested I understand by Cllr Curtis to be held in Whittlesey, so that more Whittlesey people could attend. This was agreed but what was not anticipated was that a twitter and door to door campaign was launched to get as many supporters and objectors as possible at the meeting.

“The meeting went well but as you know there was a fair amount of cheering, clapping and jeering went on when certain things were mentioned. You will also recall that half way through the meeting people were requested to move their cars as they were blocking in leisure centre users.

“The third meeting was held in Fenland Hall.

“After the third meeting and after a decision was taken to bring all applications back to committee again it was suggested at a group meeting that it would be held at Fenland Hall.

“The response to this from Cllr Curtis was an outright threat that unless the meeting was held at Whittlesey he would bring Whittlesey to Fenland Hall.

“In view of the informal 6/6 vote after Wednesday’s committee meeting and taken into account three of those in favour of Whittlesey were from new members I have decided the meeting will take place at Wisbech St Mary. (That casting vote again)

“Wisbech St Mary has much more parking space available and there will be no conflict with other users. We cannot have the same situation as last time where cars are shunted round during the meeting.

“If another campaign is launched by any party to seat fill there could be more cars needing parking space.

“I have never succumbed to threats in all my business life and will not succumb now.

“I trust you will make it clear to Whittlesey residents that one of the main reasons for not coming to Whittlesey is down to one of their own Councillors.

“When the next meeting takes place it will be strictly controlled and protocol will be enforced.”

He added: “If there is any heckling, cheering, booing or clapping the meeting WILL be suspended while the hall is cleared and the meeting will continue in private.”

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