Questions raised after departures of chief executive and chief finance officer at Peterborough and Cambridgeshire’s mayoral authority

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Questions have been asked about the employment and dismissal procedures at the county’s mayoral authority following the departures of the chief executive and chief finance officer over the last year.

Speaking to members of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting in Peterborough, Cllr Kevin Price said to metro mayor James Palmer: “I want to know if there has been a review of the employment and dismissal procedures that were used, if they were proper, and if not what has been done about them?

Mayor James Palmer

Mayor James Palmer

“This authority watched as chief executives and chief finance officers came and went over the past two years, some of whom were with us for a very short time indeed, yet ended up costing a great deal in compensation and legal fees.”

Mayor Palmer replied: “I’m not aware, Cllr Price, if that review has been completed or not, but I will look into the matter and report back to you with my findings.”

In August 2018, chief executive Martin Whiteley left his £182,000 a year post without serving a notice period, leading some to question the circumstances of his departure.

Within weeks of his departure Mr Whiteley received a substantial severance payment of £94,500 (about six months’ salary), and the authority incurred legal costs of some £11,202 +VAT.

Karl Fenlon, chief financial officer at the authority, was officially dismissed from the organisation in November 2018, just days after being appointed.

Mayor Palmer said he has been dismissed after making “misleading statements” about the funding of major projects.

Upon his departure serious questions were being asked amid renewed fears that he was sacked because he did not ‘fit in’ with Mayor Palmer’s plans.

His dismissal made him the fourth CFO to leave the authority since it was set up in 2017.

Mayor Palmer said at the time: “I have to have faith in my officers.”

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service