SUPERMARKETGATE: Melton pledges to clear out “anything that has caused mischief to me, my colleagues and you, our stakeholders”

A FIRM commitment to “clear out” any mischief makers was made by Fenland Council Leader Alan Melton.

The council leader made the pledge during a speech to nearly 200 winners, finalists, business leaders and dignitaries at the Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard Fenland Enterprise Awards on Friday.

Fenland Council co promotes the awards and senior Cabinet members as well as chief executive Paul Medd heard Cllr Melton refer indirectly to the troubled planning dispute at Whittlesey over a new supermarket.

“Just one little issue I want to mention,” Cllr Melton told his Braza Club audience. “All of you who run a business, and that includes people like me who run the council, with diminishing resources will know that the brand name is key.

“I am very proud to say that the brand of Fenland District Council stands out second to none anywhere in the region.

“I am aware of recent events where that brand has, for various reasons, taken a slight knock.”

Cllr Melton added: “What I am going to tell you this evening is the first public pronouncement that will be addressed shortly to restore Fenland District Council’s prestigious brand name.

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“Steps will be taken to clear out anything that has caused mischief to me, my colleagues and you, our stakeholders.”

Fenland Council has recently had to call in external legal advice to resolve a planning issue over whether Tesco or Sainsbury’s should be allowed to build along the Eastrea Road, Whittlesey.

When the planning committee met in Whittlesey it approved the Sainsbury’s plan and rejected Tesco but three weeks later, in a move which surprised many, the committee voted narrowly to allow Tesco to build there too.

Behind the scenes there’s been a storm of controversy after it emerged that Councillor Pop Jolley, newly re instated to Cabinet, had alleged Cabinet colleague Councillor Jan French had told him of her plans to seek a fresh vote on the Tesco application. If that conversation is proven to have happened it could indicate pre determination on the part of Cllr French – and that’s not allowed.

Whittlesey councillor Martin Curtis remains with the committee having himself stood down temporarily as deputy chairman during the supermarket debate.

“It is astonishing that the process could have gone from a resounding success to a disaster in such a short time,” he said.