Alan Melton handed tough finance portfolio on Fenland District Council
By John Elworthy CHATTERIS councillor Alan Melton has been handed the tough finance portfolio on Fenland District Council. The former leader, and most recently portfolio holder for business, has accepted Council Leader Geoff Harper s invitation to take o
By John Elworthy
CHATTERIS councillor Alan Melton has been handed the tough finance portfolio on Fenland District Council.
The former leader, and most recently portfolio holder for business, has accepted Council Leader Geoff Harper's invitation to take on the biggest job in Fenland, managing the council's budget.
The appointment, announced today, means Cllr Melton will be overseeing one of the most challenging times for decades in local government finance.
With income levels from planning fees, leisure centres and investments all on a downward spiral, Cllr Melton promised a wide ranging review of all services and expenditure.
He refused to discuss possible staff cuts, declined to speculate on a recruitment freeze, and offered no comment on possible cut backs in capital spending.
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However he said once he had considered the budget and finances in detail "and while I am formulating the 2010/11 budget there will be absolute total transparency. That means being open to public scrutiny and questioning. It the way I have always operated and the ways I will always operate".
Cllr Melton said he was invited by Cllr Harper to his home where he was offered the finance portfolio.
"He said this was an important position and it was an important time for the council," said Cllr Melton. "I was delighted to accept the job- I took it immediately".
He added: "Like all businesses, the public sector is facing some difficult times and there will be stark choices. I shall be looking at every service, what resources are needed, and what we need to ensure we continue to deliver first class services to the people of Fenland."
On the part time contract currently held by former finance chief Mat Taylor, Cllr Melton said the cabinet would be discussing this shortly and it was too early to speculate what might happen after the one year contract is up in October.
Cllr Melton has taken over the finance portfolio from Councillor Peter Skoulding, who died in July.
Other new appointments announced today include that of Councillor Simon King who enters Cabinet in charge of the business portfolio.
Cllr King's post as chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee is expected to go to Councillor Michael Humphrey, with Councillor John Clark as his deputy.
Cllr Harper added: "In addition it is intended Cllr Yeulett (deputy leader) and I will no longer chair the Policy Development Groups.
"Non cabinet members will be appointed to the various chairmanships in order to create more involvement for more members".