‘Open and transparent’ pledge by leader and ‘complain to me personally’ if your queries are not answered quickly

22:11 08 May 2014

May 11th 2011: Fenland District Councillor John Clark, arriving at Fenland Hall for the election of a new leader. Today he came by car.

May 11th 2011: Fenland District Councillor John Clark, arriving at Fenland Hall for the election of a new leader. Today he came by car.

Archant

John Clark heralded a new era tonight as he promised to be “open and transparent” in the way he runs Fenland District Council.

From left: Cllrs Fred Yeulett, John Clark and Bernard Keane.From left: Cllrs Fred Yeulett, John Clark and Bernard Keane.

The new leader, who quit cabinet last year after a row over the sale of council owned land alongside the Nene in Wisbech, also warned of “many challenges ahead during these unprecedented times of austerity”.

Cllr Clark told his first council meeting as leader: “It is important we are seen to be open and transparent and careful not to let ourselves be weighed down with excessive bureaucracy”.

He promised councillors they would be invited to take part in seminars and workshops to explain the authority’s business.

And he said both he and chief executive Paul Medd would ensure visits are made in the next year to all town and parish councils.

“I also recognise the important role overview and scrutiny has to play ensuring the council’s executive is fully accountable,” he said.

He reminded councillors that the opposition was accountable, also, to their electorate and as such they would be briefed properly on the council’s proposals and policies.

MP Steve Barclay would also be encouraged to play an active role working alongside the council.

Cllr Clark also announced immediate savings of £6,300 a year by removing the allowance paid to a deputy leader. Technically he couldn’t remove that post without changes to the constitution – expected this summer- but in the meantime Councillor Ralph Butcher had agreed to undertake that post but without extra pay.

The new leader also promised to restore media briefings – and told councillors his first interview would be with this newspaper next week.

Lib Dem councillor Gavin Booth was among those to raise the issue of how complaints to the council are handled.

The leader said if necessary people could contact him personally if they don’t get satisfaction through the council’s 3Cs procedure.

“I am happy to stand up and be counted if people don’t get a response in time- I am committed to being open and transparent,” he said.

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