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New Combined Authority roles created for public health and environment and climate change

New roles leading on public health and environment and climate change have been created at the Combined Authority.

South Cambridgeshire District Council leader, Liberal Democrat Cllr Bridget Smith, has been given the portfolio of lead member of environment and climate change.

Cllr Bridget Smith. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Bridget Smith. Picture: Keith Heppell

She said: “There is no greater threat to all of our futures than that posed by climate change and if we do not act now the consequences will be catastrophic both for our region and for the rest of the world.

Cllr Smith, who is already lead member of the environment working group for the developing OxCam Arc, added: “There is an opportunity here for the Combined Authority to lead the way and I am delighted to be offered this role which I hope will build on what South Cambridgeshire District Council is already doing and on what there is potential for the OxCam Arc to do given sufficient government support and commitment.”

Her primary responsibility will be to lead on the 31 recommendations of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Commission on Climate, approved for adoption by the Combined Authority board in June. She will also focus on net zero carbon targets, renewable energy and fostering strategic relationships with public bodies, the private sector and voluntary groups on environmental issues.

Cllr Chris Boden
Cllr Chris Boden

Meanwhile, Cllr Chris Boden, the Conservative leader of Fenland District Council, is the new lead member for public health. He will work on reducing health inequalities in the region, improving healthy life expectancy, healthy active ageing, mental health and wellbeing, preventative health, Covid-19 related public health infrastructure and community support, and strategic relationship building with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group and health providers in the region.

Labour mayor Dr Johnson, an NHS doctor, said: “It is essential that alongside our core work of supporting people and the economy by investing in upgraded transport, much needed housing, skills and business support, that public health and the environment is at the top table.

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

“Climate change is by far the biggest threat humanity has faced and every action we take must recognise this fact. And improving public health in a region where so much inequality exists, not least in measures of life expectancy, is a moral imperative. These roles were created because progress in these two areas will help define what a successful Combined Authority looks like.

“I’m really pleased Cllr Smith and Cllr Boden agreed to take them on and I know they will offer both passion and scrutiny in equal measure to help make sure their respective responsibilities are properly embedded in the work we do.”

The roles will sit alongside existing lead member responsibilities for housing (Cllr Lewis Herbert), skills (Cllr Lucy Nethsingha), transport (Mayor Dr Johnson) and economic growth (Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald).

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