Scrutiny committee chairman insists “we want and expect in future” more information from Fenland Council on performance

Overview and Scrutiny committee of the leader’s annual meeting with the committee.

Overview and Scrutiny committee of the leader’s annual meeting with the committee. - Credit: Archant

A report aimed at giving an update on council progress was criticised by a council committee on Monday for its lack of content.

Councillors complained that the 132 page document presented to the overview and scrutiny committee of Fenland Council lacked essential facts and figures.

Throughout the debate committee members criticised lack of data.

To questions about the number of empty private homes in Fenland and what impact changes to council tax had made to empty homes, the report had no answers.

Corporate director Rob Bridges said: “We will have the answer this Friday.”

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On housing the committee wanted to know how many people were evicted from properties and what support the council was giving them.

Figures were not available but the committee was told the council is working with the Citizens Advice Bureau to help those affected.

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There were also questions on section 106 money (cash paid for new services by new developers), how much remained unspent and the involvement, or lack of involvement, by local town and parish councils.

Councillor Virginia Bucknor said: “I was staggered to learn recently when looking at the Section 106 from the new Tesco in Wisbech that there is still money leftover from the section 106 given for the old Tesco building in 1996.”

Asked about the planning department, portfolio holder Will Sutton said the number of major applications that had taken more than a year to deal with had dropped from 236 to 10.

Councillors wanted to know how Fenland Council was going to attract new business to Wisbech Port.

They also queried why the report contained figures about shipping movements at Sutton Bridge port but no information on movements in and out of Wisbech.

Committee chairman Jan French said: “What we want, and expect in future, is a full and meaningful report, with essential data included.”

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