Peterborough’s metro mayor to decline immediate pay increase as he hits out at council leader’s allowances

The metro mayor for Peterborough and Cambridgeshire says he will not accept a recommended £5,000 a year pay increase.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 7:19 pm
Mayor James Palmer

James Palmer, leader of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, currently receives £75,000 a year.

However, an independent panel has recommended that he receive a pay rise as “the role and responsibilities of the mayor have changed dramatically since 2017”, the year the mayor was elected.

Mayor Palmer said he will postpone the increase for the role until after the next election in 2021.

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The former Conservative council leader has also hit out at Labour leader of Cambridge City Council Cllr Lewis Herbert - a combined authority board member and one of his strongest critics - over his allowances.

Mr Palmer said he had been ‘unaware’ that Cllr Herbert was the only board member to receive an allowance, which has increased twice from £1,120 to £4,906.

The second increase is claimed to have been agreed by the city council’s Civic Affairs Committee on October 10, against the recommendations of an independent panel.

Moreover, Cambridge city councillors on the combined authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee receive a payment of £1,227 per year, and members of the Audit and Governance Committee receive £491 per year, it was stated.

No councillors from other local authorities who sit on either committee receive any allowance.

Cllr Herbert resigned last week as combined authority cabinet member responsible for spatial planning after accusing Mayor Palmer of “cronyism” for hiring former colleagues at East Cambridgeshire District Council - where he used to be leader - and for the £19,000 spent on the recruiting process for new chief executives, who were already being employed by the authority at the time.

Mayor Palmer said: “I wasn’t aware that any of the local authority leaders who sit on the combined authority board get paid any allowance at all. I must say that the issue of member workload has come up before at combined authority meetings, however, at no stage was I aware that Cllr Herbert was receiving an allowance.

“It will interesting to see whether there is a further review of the special responsibility allowance that Cambridge City Council payout in light of Cllr Herbert’s recent resignation as portfolio holder for spatial planning.

“What is interesting is that it’s actually the Labour councillors in Cambridge who have persistently raised concerns about the cost of the Mayor’s Office despite the costs being far lower than those of Labour mayors. Yet at the same time they appear to have been keeping quiet the fact that they’ve been receiving this additional money for attending combined authority meetings.

“No Conservative councillor in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough receives any special responsibility allowance for their involvement with the combined authority.”

Cllr Herbert responded by highlighting the recent appointment of the mayor’s strategic adviser Charles Roberts.

Mr Roberts had resigned as combined authority deputy mayor earlier this month before being appointed to his new role on a reported salary of £56,400 a year, working the equivalent of four days a week.

Cllr Herbert said: “My advice to the mayor is that when in a greenhouse be careful what you throw.

“The allowance I receive for being on the combined authority as an elected council leader for a full year is the same as he has just gifted to his close friend Charles Roberts every single month for a four day a week role, and his payments are deals done without any interview process or transparency, nor a published job description, nothing like the city council process done in public.

“It is also the case that I never asked for the allowance level agreed by the city council committee – and my evidence to the City Remuneration Panel was a request for that.”