Public don't care about former chief's £94,500 payout says Peterborough metro's mayor

The public do not care about a £94,500 payout to a local government chief executive who resigned, Peterborough's metro mayor has claimed.

Thursday, 1st November 2018, 9:06 am
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 10:10 am
James Palmer and Martin Whiteley. Video from Josh Thomas
James Palmer and Martin Whiteley. Video from Josh Thomas

Martin Whiteley, the former chief executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority - the county's mayoral authority - quit in August having been in the role little over a year.

Mr Whiteley's resignation was kept quiet, and it took Freedom of Information requests to reveal that he was given a £94,500 severance payment despite not service a notice period.

The mayor's office had previously not responded to a question from the Peterborough Telegraph on whether Mr Whiteley had received any money on his departure.

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James Palmer and Martin Whiteley. Video from Josh Thomas

The former chief was on a salary of £182,000 a year when he left (more than the previously advertised amount of £150,000) which included an accommodation allowance of £15,000 a year. He signed a legal agreement when agreeing his severance payment.

It was also revealed this week that metro mayor James Palmer, leader of the CA, had made the sole decision to award Mr Whiteley his payout having taken independent legal advice.

However, the mayor hit back when questioned about the payout yesterday, claiming that the public do not care about it.

Instead, he stated, residents are only interested in issues including the creation of a bypass at King's Dyke Level Crossing - to improve traffic flow between Peterborough and Whittlesey - dualling the entirety of the A47 in the county and delivering a Cambridge metro, all of which are projects the CA is heavily involved in.

Mr Palmer said: "I don't think the general public are even slightly interested in this. What they're interested in is whether King's Dyke is going to be built, the (Cambridge) metro, what are we doing on the A47. They're not going to be particularly interested in the chief executive leaving the combined authority.

"I think it's something that probably excites one or two people on scrutiny a lot more than people who are outside in Peterborough doing their daily business.

"Martin Whiteley resigned, and he resigned after discussions we had about the direction the combined authority was going on, and Martin has moved onto pastures new, and there is a legal agreement with Martin around his severance payment that was done between his legal representatives and legal representatives of the combined authority.

"We've got interim chief executives in, the combined authority delivery is going in the right direction, and I'm very happy with the changes that have been made.

"I think really the general public aren't interested in discussing this ad infinitum."

Mr Palmer was asked how much the independent legal advice cost the CA. He said he "genuinely did not know".

The combined authority began in March 2017 as part of a devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, with the public body given responsibility for major infrastructure and housing projects including the new University of Peterborough. Mr Whiteley began as interim chief executive before taking on the post full-time.

The PT contacted him after his resignation but he declined to answer questions, including on his severance payment.

Currently the CA has two interim chief executives - former Peterborough City Council monitoring officer Kim Sawyer and Mr John Hill, chief executive of East Cambridgeshire District Council.