Voice of the Fens: New portfolio holder sets about wielding his financial muscle

PUBLISHED: 17:02 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 09:16 02 June 2010

MANY will think the remarks by Councillor Alan Melton at today s meeting of Fenland District Council may look, at first glance, to be a case of some chickens coming home to roost. In other words the certainty of a spell of parsimony after some prolificacy

MANY will think the remarks by Councillor Alan Melton at today's meeting of Fenland District Council may look, at first glance, to be a case of some chickens coming home to roost. In other words the certainty of a spell of parsimony after some prolificacy that went before.

Not, in this case, a true assessment of the financial affairs of Fenland Council for, unquestionably, this has been a well managed and much admired local authority and serves us well.

But Cllr Melton is inviting us now to venture forth into new waters as the 3.9 per cent Council Tax proposals are confined to history and a new era dawns in local government income and expenditure.

The Government will hit local councils hard, of that we can be certain, and with other financial pressures there is no doubt Fenland means to come out the other side of this economic crisis leaner and fitter and with fewer staff.

Precisely how Cllr Melton sets about wielding his financial muscle will be seen in the coming months, but there was an edge in his delivery which suggests he is relishing the opportunity to main stage the political arena and be a guiding and substantial influence in the battles ahead.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, since his qualities were evidenced by the trust placed in him by his former deputy, and now leader, Councillor Geoff Harper, who handed him the finance portfolio.

Cllr Melton has listed 27 areas where possible savings can be made, and high on his agenda will be the staffing levels.

But he has assured us that essential front line services will not be affected by the inevitable savings that will soon follow.

We take him at his word, but more crucially we will allow our readers to judge the efficacy of his actions.


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