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EFSA boss Eileen Milner appointed to £203,923-a-year role as chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

The new chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has been appointed - and will be paid a salary of £203,923.

Eileen Milner, who lives in South Cambridgeshire, is expected to take up her post in the autumn.

Eileen Milner has been appointed chief executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority
Eileen Milner has been appointed chief executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

She is currently chief executive and accounting officer of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), an executive agency of the government’s Department for Education.

In this national role, she has responsibility for a £60billion budget, with significant delivery and policy responsibilities for the schools system and post-16 education, including apprenticeships.

Before that, she was executive director at the Care Quality Commission, the regulator of health and adult social care in England, and has worked across both public and commercial sectors, as well as higher education.

She spent three years, from 2010-13 as executive director of business strategy of Northgate Public Services in Cambridge, which rebranded this month as NEC Software Solutions.

The Combined Authority, which has a budget of approximately £170million a year, has joint chief executives currently - Kim Sawyer and John Hill, who will continue in their roles until Ms Milner is able to take up the position. They were appointed initially in interim positions following the departure in August 2018 of Martin Whiteley, while Conservative James Palmer was mayor.

Ms Milner said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed into this role.

“The area covered by the Combined Authority is an extraordinary one, rich in history, talent, innovation and opportunity and I am excited to join an organisation that has such an important remit in respect of making our area the very best place to live, work, invest and learn.”

Dr Nik Johnson, the Labour mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, who was elected in May, said: “The recruitment process for this vital role has been full, transparent and rigorous, was voted for by the Combined Authority Board, and has involved collaboration with council leaders and stakeholders across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

“I think that the fact we have been able to appoint such an outstanding, experienced individual as Eileen owes a lot to the co-operative approach taken.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Eileen during my term as mayor and I’m very excited to welcome all of her experience and talent into the organisation.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson. Picture: Keith Heppell
Mayor Dr Nik Johnson. Picture: Keith Heppell

“She is a dedicated and determined public servant and will be challenged to help me continue to embed the 3Cs of Compassion, Co-operation and Community in the delivery of our projects and to help improve the lives of everyone in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

“I want to thank our joint chief executives Kim Sawyer and John Hill who have been, and continue to be, a fantastic support to me since becoming mayor, and have been enthusiastic in laying the foundations for the 3Cs within the organisation. They have steered a growing and rapidly evolving organisation as big projects have moved from concept to delivery. It has been no small challenge and they have done a great job.”

The Combined Authority board unanimously approved the decision to appoint Ms Milner to the post on June 30, but she could not be named in the role until today (July 14) because of the process of agreeing her exit from her current senior civil service position.

Ms Milner grew up in Cornwall and went to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Married, with one daughter, she has lived in South Cambridgeshire for more than twenty years.

Her selection came after 33 applications for the role, which followed an executive search by recruiters Penna and was supplemented by advertising.

A long-list of seven was drawn up before what the Combined Authority described as a “detailed process of interviews and panels” for four of the candidates, who were presented to its employment committee.

The shortlisted candidates attended engagement panels on June 7 and 14, chaired by lead consultants from Penna and including senior executives from key stakeholders - the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, Anglia Ruskin University, the CPCA Business Board, and the police and crime commissioner.

The engagement panels were tasked with providing independent feedback to the employment committee to support the recommendation of a candidate.

After interviews with the employment committee on June 16, and after considering candidate application forms, reports detailing outcomes of the technical interviews, and the feedback from the engagement panel, the committee unanimously recommended Ms Milner to the board.

The Combined Authority said the salary of £203,923 was benchmarked against other roles of similar responsibility and with “the goal of balancing value for money with the ability to attract talented candidates”.

The chief executive of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Eamonn Boylan, is paid about £220,000 a year.

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