Fenland District
March, the second largest settlement in the district.
March, the second largest settlement in the district.
Fenland shown within Cambridgeshire
Fenland shown within Cambridgeshire
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionEast of England
Non-metropolitan countyCambridgeshire
StatusNon-metropolitan district
Admin HQMarch
Incorporated1 April 1974
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district council
 • BodyFenland District Council
 • Total210.99 sq mi (546.45 km2)
 • Rank72nd (of 296)
 • Total102,742
 • Rank233rd (of 296)
 • Density490/sq mi (190/km2)
 • Ethnicity
98.6% White
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code12UD (ONS)
E07000010 (GSS)
OS grid referenceTL417969
Fenland District Council
Nick Meekins,
since 22 May 2023
Chris Boden,
since 23 May 2019
Paul Medd
since October 2011
Seats43 councillors[1]
Political groups
  Conservative (35)
Other parties
  Independent (6)
  Liberal Democrats (2)
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
Meeting place
Fenland Hall, County Road, March, PE15 8NQ
Wisbech, known as the "Capital of the Fens" is the largest settlement in the district

Fenland is a local government district in Cambridgeshire, England. It was historically part of the Isle of Ely. The district covers around 500 square kilometres (190 sq mi) of mostly agricultural land in the extremely flat Fens. The council is based in March. Other towns include Chatteris, Whittlesey and Wisbech.

Since 2017 the district has been a constituent member of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, led by the directly-elected Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.[2]

The neighbouring districts are East Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Peterborough, South Holland and King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

Chatteris, one of the Fenland market towns
Whittlesey, one of the Fenland market towns


The district was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. The new district covered the area of six former districts, which were all abolished at the same time:[3]

The new district was named Fenland, referencing its position within the Fens.[4]


Fenland District Council provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Cambridgeshire County Council. The whole district is also covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government.[5]

Political control

The council has been under Conservative control since 1999.

The first election to the council was held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until the new arrangements came into effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since 1974 has been as follows:[6][7]

Party in control Years
No overall control 1974–1976
Conservative 1976–1995
Labour 1995–1999
Conservative 1999–present


The leaders of the council since 2014 have been:[8]

Councillor Party From To
John Clark Conservative 8 May 2014 22 Feb 2018
Chris Seaton Conservative 22 Feb 2018 23 May 2019
Chris Boden Conservative 23 May 2019


Following the 2023 election, the composition of the council was:[9]

Party Councillors
Conservative 35
Independent 6
Liberal Democrats 2
Total 43

The next election is due in 2027.


The council is based at Fenland Hall in March. The original building had been built in 1909 as the county hall for the old Isle of Ely County Council.[10][11]


See also: Fenland District Council elections

Since the last boundary changes in 2023, the council has comprised 43 councillors representing 18 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.[12]

In the 2019 election, twelve councillors – all Conservative – were returned unopposed to Fenland District Council, which topped the Electoral Reform Society's list of 'rotten boroughs'.[13]


Elm, one of the many Fenland villages.

See also: Civil parishes in Cambridgeshire

The whole district is divided into 16 civil parishes. The parish councils for Chatteris, March, Whittlesey and Wisbech take the style "town council".[14]


The local economy has traditionally been built upon farming and food related industry. The food industry is now well established, and related processing, storage, packaging and distribution has become more sophisticated and diverse. The predominantly rural economy of the area also includes a strong industrial tradition, including brewing, brick making, can making, pet food production, printing and engineering, and many local residents commute outside the district to work or study. The River Nene provides access to the sea via the Port of Wisbech. Other waterways provide opportunities for angling and other water based activities. Marinas are located in Wisbech and March.

The council run markets in three of the towns (the market in Wisbech is run by Wisbech Town Council) and a number of festivals and other events.[15]

A proposal for a new Fenland rail link was agreed in June 2020.[16]

Fenland council gave £370,400 to its chief executive Tim Pilsbury when he took early retirement in 2010–11.[17]

Awareness and promotion

The term "Fen Tiger" is associated with the Fens. A flag with a tiger is now linked with this part of the county.[18]

A number of organisations such as the Fenland Archaeological Society (FenArch) and publications such as the Fenland Citizen and The Fens magazine cover much or all of the district. The Wisbech & Fenland Museum for many years was the only museum covering the district. In recent years the Fenland Poet Laurate awards have been eligible for local poets.[19]

Twin towns and sister cities

Fenland is twinned with:

Further reading

Merrison, Karen (2022). Secret Fens. Amberley.

See also


  1. ^ "Councillors". Fenland District Council. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  2. ^ "The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Order 2017", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2017/251, retrieved 13 June 2023
  3. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 31 May 2023
  4. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 31 May 2023
  5. ^ "Local Government Act 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70, retrieved 31 May 2023
  6. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  7. ^ "Fenland". BBC News Online. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  8. ^ "Council minutes". Fenland District Council. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Local elections 2023: live council results for England". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "New County Council buildings at March". Cambridge Independent Press. 30 July 1909. p. 4. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  11. ^ "Contact us". Fenland District Council. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  12. ^ "The Fenland (Electoral Changes) Order 2023", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2023/48, retrieved 15 June 2023
  13. ^ Elworthy, John (20 April 2019). "Fenland named by Electoral Reform Society as top of their 'rotten boroughs' on two counts – and candidate apathy is blamed for putting us there". Cambs Times. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  14. ^ "Town and Parish councils contact details". Fenland District Council. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  15. ^ "St. George's Fayre". fenland.gov.uk. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  16. ^ "Historic Agreement". wisbechstandard.co.uk. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  17. ^ Swinford, Steven; Walton, Gregory (1 January 2013). "£100,000 Pay-Offs For Council Chiefs". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  18. ^ "Fenland". British County Flags. 21 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  19. ^ "Poetry Winners". Fenland Citizen. 24 November 2022. Retrieved 24 November 2022.

52°34′30″N 0°02′56″E / 52.575°N 0.049°E / 52.575; 0.049