OWNERSHIP of Wisbech Market Place has passed from Fenland District Council to Wisbech Town Council.
The legal documents for the transfer were signed on Wednesday (July 27), giving the town council full responsibility for running the Market Place.
A subsequent signing ceremony took place at Thursday’s meeting of Fenland Council (July 28).
The transfer heralds the beginning of more local responsibility for this key area of the town centre.
It was set in motion exactly a year ago when the decision was announced by Councillor Alan melton, Fenland Council Leader, at a full council meeting - a move which followed controversy over plans on whether or not parking should be banned on the Market Place.
Consultation had taken place on two options - one which included some parking, and the other that banned parking. Keeping some vehicle access and parking appeared to have the majority backing.
But in July last year Fenland’s Cabinet appeared to fly in the face of practically every other organisation involved in the decision making process and to go with Option 1 banning vehicles and parking from the Market Place - a decision later called into question by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
It was then that Fenland Council made its announcement to hand the Market Place and all its problems over to the Town Council so they could decide on how to solve the problems of traffic chaos on and around the area.
Local butcher and ardent campaigner to retain Market Place parking, David Williams, accused Fenland Council of simply copping out after spending years and years of failing to make a decision.
But following Wednesday’s historic document signing Mr Melton said it was right that the people of Wisbech should have the chance to decide what was best for them, adding that the transfer was fully in line with the Government’s “Localism” agenda.
Since the decision was made last summer detailed negotiations have taken place between the district and town council, which have resulted in a mutual agreement for the transfer and provision of services.
Cllr Melton said the hand-over represented a “fitting tribute” to Councillor Roger Green following his recent sudden death. Cllr Green had seconded the proposal for the transfer last year.
Cllr Melton said: “Roger was a strong supporter of this change and I know how pleased he would have been to see it go through this week.
“It is tragic that he is not here with us to welcome it himself but I see it as a fitting tribute to his work and his lifelong dedication to the town of Wisbech.”