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Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s constituency president quits

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The president of the Conservative association in Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s Cambridgeshire constituency has quit.

Former Fenland District Council leader Alan Melton has resigned as both president and treasurer of the NE Cambridgeshire Conservative Association (NECCA).

“I am proud to have had the opportunity to represent my party at regional, national and European levels,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

“However recent events have now convinced me to leave the North East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association and sever all times with the organisation”.

Steve Barclay MP: And as Oscar Wilde might have put it “To lose one president, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”.

Steve Barclay MP: And as Oscar Wilde might have put it “To lose one president, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”.

Mr Melton said he was angry at the way the council was being run by current leader Chris Boden and the “veil of secrecy” over key decisions.

He said of particular concern to him was the lack of investment by the council into his home town of Chatteris.

“Section 106 money has traditionally been used to help fund projects but not only is not coming our way, its not even being asked for on many new developments,” he said.

Mr Melton said many of the council’s actions were “shrouded in secrecy – and that’s not good for democracy”.

He becomes the second president of the association to resign over the state of the Conservative group on Fenland Council.

In 2018, his predecessor Victor Aveling blasted the association’s executive over the way candidates for the 2019 local elections had been chosen.

Mr Aveling criticised the executive for deselecting long standing Conservative councillors in Whittlesey, Elm March, and Christchurch.

He accused the executive of being pre-determined in their choice of candidates, even de selecting Cabinet members.

“We have replaced experienced councillors with some weak candidates and in my opinion one unsuitable candidate who after being deselected as a Conservative councillor stood against us unsuccessfully firstly as an independent and then under the UKIP banner,” said Mr Aveling.

It paved the way for a much stronger independent presence on the council: in 2019 the Tories retained overall control with 26 seats but 10 independents, two Lib Dems and one Green councillor.

Candidate selection, ironically, has been a criticism of Mr Melton.

He explained that to highlight the issues within the Conservative association he had applied, but was rejected, as a candidate for next May’s election.

“I had no intention of standing,” he said. “But I just wanted to have it confirmed – they told me I would be a disruptive influence. Seriously?”

He said he reminded the Conservative association he had been a member party member for 50 years – first joining the Isle of Ely Conservative Association.

Alan Melton out for a ‘Conservative curry club’ event last August. All seemed well at the time with council leader Chris Boden as both tucked into their Kormas and Tikkas

Alan Melton out for a ‘Conservative curry club’ event last August. All seemed well at the time with council leader Chris Boden as both tucked into their Kormas and Tikkas

“I have worked very hard for the party, gallons of petrol, shoe leather and fund raising including a significant amount of time and significant personal donations,” he wrote in his resignation letter as president.

“I personally worked and supported the election of Malcolm Moss as our MP and Stephen Barclay, too.

“The elation of winning back our seat and retaining it from the Liberal Democrats (Liberals) will always be remembered for the superb team effort that all members of the Isle of Ely and then NECCA. I proud to say I was part of that team.”

Mr Melton reminded the association of his long service both as a district councillor, twice as Fenland leader, and also his time as a county councillor.

But no more.

“Please remove my name and any responsibilities that I have,” he told NECCA organising secretary Cllr Samantha Hoy.

But Mr Melton said he will not be quitting the Conservative Party.

Alan Melton: “Recent events have now convinced me to leave the North East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association and sever all times with the organisation”. He had been both president and treasurer.

Alan Melton: “Recent events have now convinced me to leave the North East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association and sever all times with the organisation”. He had been both president and treasurer.

“I shall of course remain a supporter of Stephen Barclay and the national party,” he added.

NECCA chair, Cllr Jan French, has been approached for comment.

Mr Melton retired from active politics near 10 years ago after standing down as leader. It had been his second spell.

He stood down in 2014 in the face of a threatened vote of no confidence by disenchanted colleagues.

His leadership victory four years earlier came after a barnstorming two-and-a-half hour meeting of Tory councillors during which he defeated five other candidates to secure the leadership he had lost four years earlier to former leader Councillor Geoffrey Harper.

Mr Melton had to survive three separate ballots before securing a majority.

In recent years Mr Melton, 71, has taken on part time roles as parish clerks, notably Manea where he has held the role for five years.

He added: “At the end of the day much of this is about my home town of Chatteris and its neglect by Fenland Council.

“And that is what I shall continue to fight for.”

Later this month he plans a question, as a member of the public, to a full meeting of Fenland Council.

He is keeping his own counsel on its contents.

 

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