Peterborough’s metro mayor: ‘I’m probably the most scrutinised politician in the country’

Peterborough’s metro mayor believes he is probably the most scrutinused politician in the country.

Monday, 18th March 2019, 1:59 pm
Updated Monday, 18th March 2019, 2:06 pm
Mayor James Palmer

In an interview with the Local Government Chronicle, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer said he was subject to a high number of freedom of information requests, but added: “There cannot be anyone else more transparent than I am.”

Mayor Palmer, leader of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, has come under heavy scrutiny since becoming the country’s first metro mayor in 2017.

This includes the controversial departure of the authority’s former chief executive Martin Whiteley, who left with a payout of £94,500, the high turnover of senior staff, with six chief financial officers in two years, and a budget rising to £7.6 million, far in excess of the £850,000 Mr Palmer said the authority could be run on, although it has taken on extra responsibilities than previously expected.

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The budget has now decreased to £4.5 million.

The combined authority has powers over transport, housing and infrastructure projects, including the University of Peterborough.

Mr Palmer told the LGC: “I think I am probably the most scrutinised mayor in the country, I think I’m probably the most scrutinised politician in the country, considering the number of freedom of information requests that scrutiny committee members put through to this authority.”

But he added: “There cannot be anyone else more transparent than I am. I have got no problem with that at all. They can scrutinise all they want but what it won’t do is get in the way of me delivering on my projects.”

Mr Palmer also criticised officers at other councils in the county who he claimed are using the combined authority to “prop up their budgets”.

He added: “There have been issues around that because some unelected officers feel that the combined authority exists for another reason than it actually does.”