Mayor defends £1 million for new staff at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Mayor James Palmer
Mayor James Palmer

Salaries totalling nearly £1 million are to be handed out to new staff at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority - the public body headed by the county’s metro mayor.

Three of the 17 new roles will come with six-figure salaries, meaning in total seven employees will earn more than £100,000 a year.

However, the announcement has been criticised for duplicating the roles carried out by senior officers at other Cambridgeshire authorities.

Cllr Ed Murphy, Labour group leader at Peterborough City Council, sits on the combined authority’s overview and scrutiny committee.

He said: “Rather than use existing officers where they are already in place, the mayor seems to have gone over the top and is proposing spending too much of the budget on new employees, expensive consultants and his office.

“For example, he is proposing a new director of transport on over £100,000 a year when local councils and the Cambridge City Deal already have directors who should be working together and with the combined authority.

“I would hope that his proposals are scrutinised and altered so that a small percentage, for example seven per cent in total, goes on administration and staff.

“The elected mayor has already cost us millions which should have been spent on services in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.”

The new positions include directors of housing, skills and transport and infrastructure who will be paid between £105,000 and £128,000 a year.

The directors will be assisted by three ‘programme managers’ who will receive between £55,000 and £67,000.

Two finance and two legal positions will also be filled, while a communication manager will be appointed on a salary of at least £37,000.

Two of the new jobs are for the office of Mayor James Palmer. The Conservative will have a political assistant on £34,986 a year and a private secretary on a salary of between £25,000 and £30,000.

In total, the extra funding for the posts is £946,500.

Mayor Palmer said: “The combined authority requires a number of key posts to lead on fundamental areas of our work programme.

“This includes commissioning the projects that will deliver 100,000 new homes, designing and implementing a new whole skills system and the development of a future local transport plan for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

“For every £1 of the authority’s costs the county will get £30 back in investment. We are committed to being a lean authority and still will be in comparison to other combined authorities.”

The combined authority, which was created from a devolution deal with the Government, also yesterday approved £692,000 of funding to deliver 575 more apprenticeships as well as a pilot scheme to assist career progression in the health and social care sector.

A budget of £100,000 was also approved for an appraisal study into “rapid, mass transport options” for Cambridge and the surrounding area, up to £500,000 was agreed to produce a local transport plan for the county and up to £150,000 was agreed to produce a county-wide housing strategy.

In addition, up to £150,000 was agreed to produce a ‘Non-Statutory Spatial Plan’ which will map new infrastructure requirements and provide oversight of the supply of land for new homes and jobs.

Moreover, as revealed by the Peterborough Telegraph last week the combined authority approved funding for 104 affordable houses in Newark Road and 84 affordable homes on the old John Mansfield school site, as well as 36 new homes in Snowley Park, Whittlesey.

The new positions and salaries:

. Directors of housing, skills and transport and infrastructure - £105,000-£128,000 a year each

. Assistant director for economic strategy and spatial planning - £50,000-£55,000

. Three programme managers - £55,000-£67,000 each

. Commissioning and contracts solicitor - £45,000-£50,000

. Legal officer (trainee) - £25,000-£30,000

. Finance manager - £45,000-£50,000

. Finance officer (trainee) - £25,000-£30,000

. Communications manager - £37,000-£50,000

. Executive officer - £30,000- £35,000

. Two personal assistants - £20,000 to £25,000 each

. Political assistant - £34,986

. Private secretary - £25,000 - £30,000