Peterborough metro mayor defers £5k salary rise

Mayor James PalmerMayor James Palmer
Mayor James Palmer
Metro mayor James Palmer told members of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority he will defer a £5,000 rise in his allowance and the possibility of a pension until May 2021 - the next mayoral election.

The decision was announced at yesterday’s Annual Meeting following a short but angry disagreement about whether or not it was correct to offer Mayor Palmer the opportunity to regard his fixed-term contract of employment as pensionable.

Cllr Bridget Smith asked Kim Sawyer, combined authority interim chief executive officer: “Is it correct procedure and common-place among other metro mayors in the country to be offered such a pension?”

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Ms Sawyer said: “No, it’s not the normal position; but it is entirely within the powers of the board to grant it.”

Cllr Smith replied: “I don’t see why we should offer an incentive like this to the mayor if it’s not common practice and isn’t done elsewhere.”

However, Cllr Anna Bailey commented: “I couldn’t disagree more. What if – God forbid – the mayor was run over by a bus tomorrow? He would receive no remuneration for the work he’s already done.

“Surely if we advertised the position today the pension incentive would be included?”

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Mayor Palmer, who had remained quiet until then, announced: “If it eases matters for the board then I’m quite prepared to defer the question of my pension, and the £5,000 increase in my allowance, until May 2021.

“I would just say that I have no other pensionable employment at this time.”

Cllr Lewis Herbert called for a vote on the matter, but before that could be taken Cllr Chris Boden said: “I’m disturbed that my fellow councillor should have the need for a vote.

“Our mayor has announced at a public meeting he’s willing to defer his allowance and pension – his word alone should be good enough, without the need for a vote.”

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The request was withdrawn and it was noted that the mayor had deferred both matters to May 2021.

Mayor Palmer receives an annual allowance of £75,000. The increase of £5,000 would have taken his allowance to £80,000.

The combined authority would be required to make representations to central government should it desire the mayor’s income to be regarded as a fixed-term contract of employment that is pensionable.

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service