Devolution talks not easy says Peterborough City Council chief executive

B2B Exhibition at Kingsgate Centre. Gillian Beasley opens the event EMN-151021-174113009
B2B Exhibition at Kingsgate Centre. Gillian Beasley opens the event EMN-151021-174113009
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The chief executive of Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council believes her position in charge of both authorities has helped to fashion the current proposals for devolution.

A consultation is ongoing on whether Peterborough and Cambridgeshire should have a combined authority with an elected mayor in charge of a budget worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Councillors are more positive about the current proposals than the first ones which they rejected. It proposed an authority encompassing Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

But getting to this stage has not been easy.

“The words I would use are challenging, fast-paced, frustrating. I’ve learnt a lot about the workings of government through it,” said Mrs Beasley.

“I’ve tried to work with the politicians to secure the best deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, but it’s up to politicians to work out if it’s the best deal for residents.”

Mrs Beasley said there have been benefits to her working at both councils, with the sharing of best practices of work benefitting the areas of transport, adult social care and health commissioning. The councils are also looking to join up trading standards.

Mrs Beasley also believes the Government is more likely to take serious requests for greater train capacity between Peterborough and Cambridge if a chief executive of two councils instead of one is making representations.

And as someone who has struggled to get a seat while travelling between both cities, she acknowledged: “If you look at the rail line from Peterborough to Cambridge, it’s not brilliant.”