Wisbech to get extra jobs and prosperity under Fenland Council leader's �2million pledge

FENLAND Council Leader Alan Melton tonight offered an extraordinary commitment to Wisbech by pledging up to �2million to bring extra jobs and prosperity to the town.

EXCLUSIVE by: JOHN ELWORTHY

FENLAND Council Leader Alan Melton tonight offered an extraordinary commitment to Wisbech by pledging up to �2million to bring extra jobs and prosperity to the town.

He won councillors' support to raid the cash pile accumulated by the sale of the district's 4,000 council houses to make an immediate difference to the town's prospects for growth.

"This is not just an exercise in spending our reserves but an exercise in investment", he told a stunned council chamber at Fenland Hall.


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The money will be spent building the infrastructure to unlock key areas of land to attract new factories and industries to the town.

But that was only part of his spending commitment as he turned the existing capital programme upside down by promising to add nearly �6million to the council's forward spending plans.

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He said the total spending of �5,675,000 "is a clear break with the past and represents major investment in Fenland. It is anticipated that every person in Fenland will see some benefit from this programme."

Much of the investment in Wisbech he expects to recoup through land sales and finance could come, too, from matched funding.

"I shall not hesitate to use my new role in Europe to knock on doors to seek funding from the European Union," said Cllr Melton.

He added: "This is a budget for jobs, skills, education, health, community development and leisure. I am confident we have the will, the capacity and the expertise to deliver."

An extra �500,000 will go to villages for community projects such as grants to village halls and new play equipment and more money will be put into ensuring Wisbech Market Place is re-configured quickly.

And he had a surprise, too, for those thinking a new campus for the College of West Anglia was dead in the water as he promised Fenland Council Tax payers would find �1.5 million to re-awaken the dream.

"The challenge to others is quite simple," he said. "We are prepared to commit this large sum of money to the college - now it's over to you."

Council officers were told to work with other partners to "secure funding and eventually the construction of the college. We recognise that the whole building, in its original form cannot be built in one go but we can start and build on this initial investment over time."

He said 11,000 new homes planned for Fenland would bring "an unprecedented number of new people, with young families, all of which will grow into young adults, requiring not only a good education but access to new skills training.

"Cancellation of the new college campus was a huge blow to the whole of Fenland but now Fenland Council wants to play an active role in getting it back on track".

He also promised �1.5million to Chatteris to help fund a revolutionary all in one leisure centre, swimming pool, fitness gym, medical centre, child care centre and health advice and screening centre jointly funded by councils and health authorities.

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