Fenland District Council will need to deliver savings of £2 million

PUBLISHED: 10:56 25 September 2009 | UPDATED: 09:16 02 June 2010

PRESENTATIONS  to councillors involved in Anglia in Bloom successes were the warm up at last night s meeting at Fenland Hall to what more accurately could have been billed   An Audience with Alan Melton . For this was the occasion when Cllr Melton, newly

PRESENTATIONS to councillors involved in Anglia in Bloom successes were the warm up at last night's meeting at Fenland Hall to what more accurately could have been billed "An Audience with Alan Melton".

For this was the occasion when Cllr Melton, newly installed as portfolio holder for finance, re-emerged centre stage to deliver a comprehensive analysis of the savings he expects Fenland District Council to make.

His explosive summary left few in doubt as to the remit he feels he has been given to deliver savings of £2 million from the coming year's spending.

Along the way he brought back into the cold former planning committee Jan French, praising the work she undertook four years ago to reveal poor accounting of section 106 payments but which later saw her ousted from the planning committee chairmanship.

Cllr Melton thanked her for the months of effort she had put into documenting outstanding payments and accepted her assertions that recent spreadsheets produced by council officials failed to accurately pin point which town or village was entitled to which sums of money.

He said senior Cabinet colleagues would shortly be sitting down "to sort this out once and for all. What concerns me is that records are going out to local councils and are not up to date. That is something I intend to address."

But it was not simply the matter of the handling of section 106 (planning gain) payments that caused him concern.

In a question and answer session with councillors he said the 27 areas of council expenditure he had promised to examine for possible savings, would mean no area was off limits.

Councillor Mark Archer asked him about the car leasing arrangements and mileages paid to council staff, and questioned why staff numbers had appeared to rise, even though large numbers had moved over to Roddons Housing Association when the council transferred it s' council homes.

Cllr Melton told members there was no such thing as company cars at Fenland Hall but what did appear in the accounts were car allowances and lease payments made to officers which totalled £350,000. Car mileages added another £150,000 to costs and Cllr Melton promised this would be looked at as part of the current review.

He warned the rising costs of leisure centres would have to be tackled, and questioned whether some responsibility might fall on town councils and others to help out.

And on the thorny issue of car parks and possible car park charges, Cllr Melton said changes would be inevitable in years to come as demand for parking increased and Fenland would have to react accordingly.

Quizzed by Cllr Peter Tunley over what would happen if the £2 million savings could not be made, Cllr Melton said the figure was non negotiable.

"We will make them," he insisted

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