Let scrutiny take a look says Cabinet after it postpones decision on controversial Whittlesey allotment proposals
15:49 25 April 2014
A plan which could have given Whittlesey Town Council upwards of £100,000 should allotments be sold has been put on hold.
Fenland District Council Cabinet voted unanimously to defer a decision on the controversial proposals following an intervention by Councillor Pop Jolley.
Cllr Jolley, the cabinet member for leisure and tourism, won support to refer the allotments issue to the overview and scrutiny committee.
“I think this should go to scrutiny for them to look at any precedent,” he said. “In cabinet we have been talking about members not knowing what is going on.
“This is the chance for Whittlesey Town Council members to go along and explain what has gone wrong in the past and feed back some recommendations.
“This opens it up for more people to look at it. We say overview and scrutiny is there- lets use it.”
Council leader Alan Melton said original details of the allotments issue had been marked for the confidential session but he had insisted it be an on open agenda.
The main issue is over a 99-year lease offered by Fenland District Council to Whittlesey Town Council in 2011, for allotments, but remains unsigned after a dispute over what might happen if the land is sold for housing.
The town council has asked for 15 per cent of the net proceeds of any sale of the 6.5 acres off New Road.
Officers said that reducing the possible net income to Fenland should the site be sold for housing “will further reduce” the district council’s anticipated capital receipts.
Fenland says it will only seek planning permission and disposal “if the market conditions are favourable”.
In 2011 cabinet was told that the town council had occupied the land – originally bought for housing - since 1981 and had invested £30,000 between 2009-11 to improve them.
When last valued in 2011 the site, if sold for housing, would be worth from £1million to £1.25million.
In 2011 cabinet decided that if the land was sold it would simply find an alternative.