BREAKING: Metro mayor and colleagues told to reconsider £1 million extra spend on staff at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Mayor James Palmer
Mayor James Palmer
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The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has been told he must reconsider an extra £1 million spend on staff at the county's new local authority.

A scrutiny panel today (Wednesday, August 16) ordered Mayor James Palmer and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority board to think again over its new staffing structure.

The decision by the combined authority to employ 17 new staff members, three of whom will earn more than £100,000 a year, was subject to a call-in which was passed by seven votes to six by the authority's Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

The new positions include directors of housing, skills and transport and infrastructure who are to 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 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.

Peterborough city councillor Ray Bisby was sitting in as a substitute on the committee.

He said the committee wanted more details on the new directors to ensure there is no duplication happening in areas such as housing and transport strategies with Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

And he said the committee wants to be involved at an earlier stage by getting reports earlier and having more discussion with the combined authority.

He added: “Personally I voted against the call-in, mainly because the mistakes were admitted in public and acknowledged that the combined authority need to get information out earlier and to have more direct discussion with the committee.

“This is an authority in its infancy that are on a steep learning curve. We were informed that this is the first authority to be set up locally since 1974 and therefore have to start from scratch.

“They need to get people in position and they are going to delay that procedure by calling it in."

Mayor Palmer has previously defended the new jobs, saying: “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.”