Questions raised over staffing levels at public body headed by Peterborough’s metro mayor

Cambs and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer EMN-170717-163146009
Cambs and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer EMN-170717-163146009
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Questions have been raised over staffing levels at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority amid claims it has spent far more on staff than had originally been expected.

The public body headed by metro mayor James Palmer has been criticised after suggestions it has spent more than twice as much as had initially been suggested on a far larger workforce.

The authority, which has been touted as a lean and efficient government body, has taken on additional roles and responsibilities since it was set up in 2017.

Speaking at Cambridge City Council’s strategy and resources scrutiny committee on Monday (July 2), Cllr Tim Bick, Lib Dem leader at Cambridge City Council, asked whether the combined authority’s staffing situation was getting out of hand.

Cllr Bick said: “There are now 62 members of staff working at the combined authority, contrasted with the 20 that were originally promised. Staff are costing £2.5 million compared to the £1 million originally proposed.”

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, sits on the board of the combined authority. He said it was “reasonable” that the staffing levels of the combined authority had grown, given the added responsibilities it had taken on.

Cllr Herbert said: “I think it is reasonable that the functions of the combined authority grow. It has been my view there needed to be greater realism in what the expectations were.”

Cllr Herbert said the combined authority had taken on staff after absorbing many of the duties of the former local enterprise partnership (LEP) which ceased operating last year. He said it made sense that the authority had more staff and resources.

“The LEP had 25 staff and continued to operate, I think, until March,” said Cllr Herbert. “The combined authority has taken over the LEP and I think it is better fitted.

“I am keen that we have open appointments and that new posts are properly advertised. I want transparency and want to see the right staff being brought in.”

Josh Thomas , Local Democracy Reporting Service