EXCLUSIVE: Leaked email sparks blazing row amidst electoral meltdown fear by Alan Melton

PUBLISHED: 17:39 02 December 2009 | UPDATED: 09:24 02 June 2010

Cllr Melton

Cllr Melton

Exclusive By John Elworthy FENLAND councillor Alan Melton was embroiled in fresh controversy tonight after a leaked email sparked a blazing row over the future of leisure services in Chatteris. Cllr Melton sent a private and strictly confidential email

Exclusive

By John Elworthy

FENLAND councillor Alan Melton was embroiled in fresh controversy tonight after a leaked email sparked a blazing row over the future of leisure services in Chatteris.

Cllr Melton sent a private and 'strictly confidential' email to Council Leader Geoff Harper warning of electoral meltdown in Chatteris unless a leisure centre becomes a reality.

He urged Cllr Harper to agree to a task force of officers, members and external funders to manage the project but warned that "the first officer who says you cannot do that will be shown the door".

Cllr Melton believes an application due in the New Year for up to 1200 new homes in Chatteris, and possible further development of seven acres of council owned land, could provide spin off funding for a leisure centre.

The outspoken portfolio holder for finance claimed Fenland Council was dragging its feet on providing a leisure centre for Chatteris and said a campaign by his Lib Dem political opponent Chris Howes "will resonate with the people of Chatteris".

But it was Cllr Melton's observation that "interference from the chief executive or deputy chief executive will not be tolerated" that has sparked the row.

For the email was copied and sent to deputy leader Fred Yeulett who handed a copy to chief executive Tim Pilsbury who questioned Cllr Melton this week about its contents.

The email left open which officers should be on the task force but ruled out one senior official by name, describing him as "not competent to carry out this work".

He also urged Cllr Harper "to show some consideration for Chatteris" and wanted "no blockage this time from officers".

Unless something was done soon "we in Chatteris are facing electoral wipe out".

Cllr Melton, who refused to comment, had a blazing row with Cllr Yeulett for handing the email to Mr Pilsbury and claimed he acted improperly and in breach of Conservative Association rules. The matter will be debated at next week's meeting of the ruling group on Fenland Council.

Debbie Clark, the Tory agent for NE Cambs, confirmed the association had launched its own investigation into the affair.

Mr Pilsbury is yet to decide if he will take action but his spokesman said that "if the council was in receipt of any information that we considered to be a breach of the members' code of conduct, a referral would be made to the standards committee".


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