Melton unveils first stage of radical shake up at Fenland Hall that will give public right to speak

By John Elworthy THE public is to be given the right to speak at meetings of Fenland District Council and at Cabinet meetings. The changes form part of a radical raft of measures fast tracked by new Leader Councillor Alan Melton and drawn up in recent we

By John Elworthy

THE public is to be given the right to speak at meetings of Fenland District Council and at Cabinet meetings.

The changes form part of a radical raft of measures fast tracked by new Leader Councillor Alan Melton and drawn up in recent weeks by a review sub committee.

Cllr Melton has made it clear the new measures, expected to be approved next Thursday, are only the beginning of an even more comprehensive overhaul of the way the council is run.


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Other measures up for consideration next week include increasing from 11 to 17 the number of councillors on the planning committee, and the creation of two overview and scrutiny committees to study the local authority's past, present and future performance.

Some of the changes are technical but will, for example, allow Cllr Melton to replace Cabinet members more readily and to adjust their work load if and when he sees fit.

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He will also increase the number of councillors on the standards committee from three to five to join the five independent members and two parish council members.

Ian Hunt, legal services manager, explained that this change is being proposed "to enable greater flexibility and capacity in managing complaints where members of the committee are unable to sit due to conflicts of interest".

He said the changes would alter the balance whereby previously independent members had a majority on the committee.

Mr Hunt said that the overall affect of the changes would be to ensure councillors were able to achieve "greater flexibility, openness and transparency." It would also mean more councillors become involved in the "relevant decision making process".

Mr Hunt said the new "access avenues" of public participation at meetings will ensure all sections of the community are able to use this process.

Cllr Melton will also be introducing new rules about spending powers of the chief executive.

Cllr Melton said today: "These changes represent a clear break from the past. They will make the council more transparent and will give officers and members the chance of being one team.

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