Labour Euro MEP Howitt accused of “jumping in with two feet” over alleged BBC comments by Fenland leader

PUBLISHED: 11:39 19 March 2012 | UPDATED: 14:58 19 March 2012

Fenland District Council leader Alan Melton and MEP Richard Howitt

Fenland District Council leader Alan Melton and MEP Richard Howitt


LABOUR MEP Richard Howitt has been accused of “jumping in with two feet” after claiming Fenland District Council Leader Alan Melton allegedly snubbed a bid to help regenerate Wisbech shops.

Cllr Melton said the interview on the BBC Politics show on Sunday was heavily edited “and Richard Howitt needs to see the full context of the interview before jumping in with two feet”.

Mr Howitt said he was “shocked to take part in the television debate in which Cllr Melton said shopping in the town would have to contract and that ‘this is not the sort of place people want to browse and pick up knock-knacks’”

The Cambridgeshire Euro MP said he was supporting the Portas bid to get Wisbech £100,000 to rejuvenate shops “and the local council should not accept as inevitable that shops must close. There is no reason at all why Wisbech can’t be an attractive town centre with distinctive and thriving shop.”

Cllr Melton said he did indeed the use the work ‘knick knack’ but “what I actually said was ‘the shopping centre will probably have to contract’. I also said ‘what Wisbech needs is a high quality anchor store in the centre, to draw people into the centre. At the moment this is not the sort of place people want to browse and pick up knick knacks.’”

Cllr Melton added: “I am committed to the redevelopment of the town centre of Wisbech but as I said in a recent speech it is time for a major re-think, with nothing ruled in or out.”

He said the BBC interview took 75 minutes and Mr Howitt had latched onto a small section “which didn’t reflect my true feelings.”

The council leader added that he had also asked for “discretion around business rates and business rate holidays to encourage growth and enterprise in the town centre.”


  • Can anyone explain what "knock knacks" are??!!

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    Mr Grumpy

    Monday, March 19, 2012

  • That the town centre does not attract is because it needs support and encouragement, and long term planning and investment. The failure to control parking in the market, or bring in a farmer's market for example, would be obvious quick wins. Again this morning, walking through churchyard a couple of gents enjoying their morning lager with litter dropped next to the bin...lovely. There are quick wins here. The council continue to encourage big developments outside of town then of course you pull people away unless you can offer something different or enticing.

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    Monday, March 19, 2012

  • Walking into the center from the Clarkson memorial end of town, dodging the cars weaving past those parked on either side, looking up at the buildings, you see how run down it has all become, then as you enter the market place you again see the cars parked as if they have been dropped in. Then you stand there and wonder, has there been a war and we lost, we seem to now be an occupied town, left with charity shops, a legalised loan shark and stores selling anything for a quid. The life has been drained out of it by surrounding the town with supermarkets, leaving it just a car park for those competing for the "Worst car parker of the year" award. Ban the cars, encourage the cafe's to extend out onto the market place during the summer months, as they do on the continent, make it once again the Hub of the town, and not what it is now, just somewhere to abandon the car.

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    Thursday, March 22, 2012

  • I've said it before and I'll say it again - Wisbech will never improve while it is being ruled by March, sorry, Fenand Council. The only way Wisbech will get back to its status as the true Capital of the Fens is to have the decisions affecting Wisbech made in Wisbech, not March!

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    Citizen of EUSSR

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

  • It’s either a national chain of garden centres or Malaysian slang for a particularly nasty virus?

    Report this comment


    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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