Committee rejects findings of council's top legal officer and votes for determination hearing

MEMBERS of Fenland District Council Standards Committee rejected the findings of the council s most senior legal officer that had cleared a councillor of an allegation that he breached the code of conduct. It means the allegation will now be considered by

MEMBERS of Fenland District Council Standards Committee rejected the findings of the council's most senior legal officer that had cleared a councillor of an allegation that he breached the code of conduct.

It means the allegation will now be considered by a determination panel despite Perry Holmes, the council's monitoring officer, insisting "there is no case to answer in respect of the allegation".

The row centres on a letter published by Councillor Alan Melton on the eve of this year's county council elections. In it Cllr Melton referred to a �1.5 million award to Chatteris through Cambridgeshire Horizons to help build a leisure centre.

Town councillor Chris Howes, and Cllr Melton's opponent in the county council elections, complained that release of the information was confidential and queried whether he had written the letter in any official capacity.

Mr Holmes, who appointed his assistant Ian Hunt to conduct lengthy interviews both with Cllr Melton and Cllr Howes, concluded the letter was written outside of his official capacity and the material was not confidential.

However at Monday's standards committee, members voted 4-2 against accepting the report's conclusion and so the matter will now go to a full hearing later this year.