Tories decide to stick with Melton as leader after “resounding victory” over King

FENLAND Council has re-elected Alan Melton as its leader following a meeting tonight of the ruling Conservative group.

FENLAND Council has re-elected Alan Melton as its leader following a meeting tonight of the ruling Conservative group.

Cllr Melton, re-elected to his Birch ward, Chatteris, seat last Thursday with an increased majority, beat off a challenge for the leadership from Wisbech councillor Simon King.

However Cllr King, supported by two March councillors, Fred Yeulett and John Clark, gathered only a handful of votes and colleagues described it as a “resounding victory” for Cllr Melton.

As he left the 45 minute meeting, Cllr Melton said he was off home to consider options for his new Cabinet which will be announced shortly. Key committee chairmanships – including that of staff, planning and overview and scrutiny- will also be determined in the coming days.

He promised the newly elected Lib Dems and Independent members’ proportionality when committee places are handed out. Cllr Melton hinted that he expected them to approach the Conservative ruling group collectively rather than individually to discuss options.

Cllr Melton said so far as he was concerned it was now “business as usual” and he expected a busy time ahead as the council sought to consolidate its finances and stimulate the local economy.

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He said he believed the election result had vindicated the Tory Party’s policies locally “and our focus will be on growth, jobs, infrastructure and financial stability.”

He added: “At the moment, however, I have just one thing on my mind and that is going home to read a bedtime story to my young son.”

The councillors, all successful in last week’s local elections, began arriving at Fenland Hall just after 4pm for a group meeting.

Also at tonight’s meeting was Pop Jolley, one of two councillors returned unopposed to the district council.

It was a poignant moment for Cllr Jolley following his surprise resignation from the council five years ago.

However one of the first Cabinet appointments expected is likely to be that of Cllr Jolley who is also widely tipped to become deputy leader. .

Also tipped for greater responsibility in the new administration is Cllr Jan French, chairman of one of the overview and scrutiny committees but widely credited with work on refreshing the council’s constitution.

She is also acknowledged to have played a pivotal role in tightening procedures by the council for the collection of section 106 money- due to the council from developers.

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