James Palmer, mayor of the Com­bined Author­ity

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - SPECIAL REPORT -

“In re­sponse to Charles Swift OBE, who fears that Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil may be abol­ished now that we have a Cam­bridgeshire and Peter­bor­ough Com­bined Author­ity, let me make ab­so­lutely clear that while I’m Mayor, that will never hap­pen.

Let’s also be clear about what the Com­bined Author­ity is for. Last year, the gov­ern­ment of­fered Cam­bridgeshire and Peter­bor­ough a de­vo­lu­tion deal that would bring pow­ers back to re­gions. The re­sul­tant Com­bined Author­ity was given a strate­gic re­spon­si­bil­ity and fund­ing to de­liver hous­ing and trans­port in­fra­struc­ture as well as im­prove skills and ed­u­ca­tion. As mayor, my fo­cus is on these key ar­eas, and in or­der to de­liver for the peo­ple of Peter­bor­ough, I am working closely with Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil to take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity de­vo­lu­tion has pre­sented us. That’s why last month the Com­bined Author­ity agreed to put in £9.74 mil­lion to help de­velop the first phase of the Univer­sity of Peter­bor­ough – a learn­ing in­sti­tu­tion that will have its own pow­ers to award de­grees, and fo­cus on the skills this re­gion needs to make its work­force more com­pet­i­tive and boost the econ­omy. Of the op­tions on the ta­ble for us, the Com­bined Author­ity chose to in­vest the max­i­mum amount into the Univer­sity, to of­fer places for twice as many stu­dents and of­fer a sen­si­ble, sin­gle-site in­terim fa­cil­ity at the Em­bank­ment. This project was an ab­so­lute cor­ner­stone of the de­vo­lu­tion deal and I was de­lighted to help get the ball rolling on the first phase.

I’m cham­pi­oning the case for full du­alling of the A47 from Peter­bor­ough to Wis­bech, to help un­lock more of the eco­nomic po­ten­tial of the north­ern part of the county. I felt the orig­i­nal High­ways Eng­land A47 pro­pos­als of du­alling from Wans­ford to Sut­ton and im­prov­ing the Guy­hirn round­about were sim­ply not am­bi­tious enough. So a busi­ness case has been com­mis­sioned by the Com­bined Author­ity for a full du­alling, and I will be meet­ing with the chief ex­ec­u­tive of High­ways Eng­land soon. And this year the Com­bined Author­ity was suc­cess­ful in bid­ding for £4.57 mil­lion from the Gov­ern­ment for the Yax­ley loop road, which will bring for­ward an ad­di­tional and much needed 5,350 homes for Peter­bor­ough. These are all projects which are be­ing taken for­ward along­side the good work that Peter­bor­ough’s city coun­cil is al­ready do­ing. In­deed, the leader of Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, Cllr John Holdich, is a key part of the Com­bined Author­ity Board and one of my deputy may­ors and I work with him closely.

Let me as­sure Mr Swift that the Com­bined Author­ity and the City Coun­cil has a good working re­la­tion­ship that is al­ready bear­ing fruit.

An in­de­pen­dent re­view of the current struc­ture of lo­cal gov­ern­ment in Cam­bridgeshire and Peter­bor­ough has been com­mis­sioned by the Com­bined Author­ity, which will set out to find how things could be done bet­ter, and whether we can save some tax pay­ers’ money in the process. That will report in the au­tumn and I look for­ward to the re­sults.

I un­der­stand the rea­sons why Peter­bor­ough broke off from Cam­bridgeshire County Coun­cil in the late 1990s and I re­spect the de­ci­sion that was made. As Mayor, I am in full sup­port of a strong, in­de­pen­dent uni­tary coun­cil for Peter­bor­ough.”

James Palmer

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