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Council leaders call for independent review into Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority

By Adrian Curtis

Council leader Lewis Herbert called fo an independent review into the governance of the Combined Authority in the region. Picture: Keith Heppell
Council leader Lewis Herbert called fo an independent review into the governance of the Combined Authority in the region. Picture: Keith Heppell

Lewis Herbert and Bridget Smith want answers from mayor James Palmer over CA governance issues

The leaders of South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council want an independent review into the region’s Combined Authority and have urged mayor James Palmer to explain what happened over the departure of chief executive Martin Whiteley last month.

South Cambridgeshire leader Bridget Smith and her city council counterpart Lewis Herbert, have jointly submitted a motion to the next meeting of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CA) board asking it to commission an independent review and implement its recommendations “given the scale of change necessary for it to become an effective and professionally-led organisation”.

The review would also ensure the CA makes progress in delivering schemes benefiting residents after nearly 18 months in operation.

They will also press for a single interim chief executive to be recruited to lead the CA, rather than the two appointments proposed by the mayor. In addition, the leaders believe that evidence points to Mr Whiteley’s departure as being a dismissal by the mayor, which would be in breach the CA constitution.

The departure of the chief executive adds to the list of senior positions at the CA with no permanent post-holders, including the vacant director of infrastructure and transport and director of finance roles. Interims have filled these roles through 2018.

The two leaders say they are concerned that major recent staff changes have occurred without any written communication with CA board members or formal public statements.

The CA also agreed to create and rent a large office in Alconbury in the summer, but it is currently being run increasingly from Ely where the mayor’s office is based.

Cllr Smith and Herbert will be sharing further details in support of their call for a review at the board meeting on September 26.

Questions are also expected at the CA committee meeting, including opposition to a plan being put to the scrutiny committee by the CA monitoring officer.

The opposition claims the plan proposes to reduce scrutiny by preventing issues in future being called in for scrutiny without majority (Conservative) councillor support and blocking the rights of the three minority parties on the scrutiny committee to discuss decisions they object to or that they consider need detailed investigation.


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