Melton seeks legal advice after Clark resigns his finance post and criticises leader in email to colleagues

The College of West Anglia Engineering Apprenticeship Awards. Cllr Alan Melton.

The College of West Anglia Engineering Apprenticeship Awards. Cllr Alan Melton. - Credit: Archant

THE leader of Fenland Council has told colleagues he is considering legal action following damning criticism and allegations circulated by his former portfolio holder for finance.

Cambridgeshire County Council election count at the Hudson Leisure Centre, Wisbech. Cllr John Clark

Cambridgeshire County Council election count at the Hudson Leisure Centre, Wisbech. Cllr John Clark (Con) - Credit: Archant

THE leader of Fenland Council has told colleagues he is considering legal action following damning criticism and allegations circulated by his former portfolio holder for finance.

Cllr Florence Newell.

Cllr Florence Newell. - Credit: Archant

Councillor Alan Melton said that following the receipt of a widely leaked email he now considers 'some of the allegations libellous and cast doubt upon the integrity of my family and me.

'I shall therefore be passing the message to my solicitor for further advice and as a consequence, I shall be making no further comment.'

The brief statement by Cllr Melton was made the day after Councillor John Clark resigned his Cabinet post and listed his reasons in an email sent to all Conservative group members hours before they all met on Thursday night.


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Cllr Clark intended to force a debate on his reasons for quitting but having failed to give 48 hours notice of his intention to speak, the rule book stopped the issue from being discussed.

Earlier in the day Cllr Clark, cabinet member for finance for the past three years, shook colleagues by the bitterness of his resignation letter – emailed to them late morning.

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He told Cllr Melton of his decision to quit citing his frustration at the alleged lack of transparency.

'I have got so frustrated with the top tier and how they look publicly I can no longer go along with it,' he told me.

'I am unhappy and although there are some cabinet positions you can have and merrily do your job without being associated with the top tier; the portfolio for finance is not one of them.'

Cllr Clark would not be drawn on the issue of contesting Cllr Melton for the leadership but many within the party expect him to do so.

Cllr Melton said: 'I am very sorry John has resigned. He has done a superb job over three years and the finances of the council have been strengthened by his work.'

The leader said he had always been close to Cllr Clark and was surprised by the decision.

Cllr Clark admitted to being unhappy 'with the public perception of how Fenland Council is being run. No longer can I carry on. I feel my integrity is at risk.'

In his email – sent to all councillors within the ruling Tory group and to chief executive Paul Medd and party officials- Cllr Clark outlined his disquiet over the way the authority had been run.

He singled out for criticism appointments made by Cllr Melton to the cabinet and wants councillors with external roles in development or building companies to be prevented from key council posts.

Cllr Clark is angry at the decision by Cllr Melton to combine the leadership with a role as managing director of a building company. He felt Cllr Melton should have told his Tory colleagues of his intentions to take on the role.

Cllr Clark also questioned why a recent confidential meeting to discuss a mix of social and private housing as part of the £52m regeneration of the Nene waterfront at Wisbech had not been delayed.

He also attacked the level of allowances given to Cllr Melton for running the council.

Neither Cllr Melton nor Cllr Clark attended the Cabinet meeting at which the go ahead was given to sell part of the site to a local builder and to a housing association. Cllr Clark

'That Cabinet meeting went ahead at short notice in the full knowledge that Alan was on holiday, too: my own holiday dates had been known since Christmas, 'said Cllr Clark.

Cllr Melton said both he and Cllr Clark missed the Cabinet debate over the Nene debate because of holidays 'but it the timing of the meeting had nothing to do with me. I do not fix the timings of Cabinet meetings.'

Cllr Clark added: 'Everything I have put forward at council has been open and transparent and I have given of the best of my ability. 'Sometimes I don't agree with other members but you have to be honest and honest about why you have made that decision. Do that and it's fine by me.'

Cllr Melton has since reshuffled his Cabinet, giving Whittlesey councillor Kay Mayor the finance portfolio. Her replacement as chairman of licensing has not yet been revealed.

One of Cllr Melton's supporters, Councillor Florrie Newell, said: 'Everyone is entitled to a job outside council. If I remember Cllr Clark runs a garage.'

She said the leader, in her opinion, had 'made the fatal error of rewarding his enemies' and claimed Cllr Clarke had been unhappy for some time.

'Goodness knows what all this is doing for the reputation of the council- we are meant to be one of the best councils in Britain but I do wonder what others think of us at the moment,' she said.

'The trouble with Cllr Clark is that he has had ideas of grandeur about being leader for some time. All this has made me so very angry.'

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