Big criticism of mayoral body
An ‘extraordinary’ letter signed by the chief executive of Peterborough City Council and fellow local government leaders has highlighted major concerns with the county’s mayoral authority.
Gillian Beasley has expressed concerns about the running of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CA), which is headed by Mayor James Palmer, over its transparency, governance and the way it spends money.
Mrs Beasley, who is also chief executive of Cambridgeshire County Council, was joined in signing the “unprecedented” letter by the chief executives of Fenland, South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge councils, the county’s chief constable, chief fire officer, the director of corporate affairs at the county’s clinical commissioning group, and other senior figures .
On financial matters, the chiefs said: “There is an increasing concern that the rules of operation that you are using are not clear or widely understood.”
There were also worries the mayor was making ‘unconstitutional’ decisions.
The letter reads: “Reports to leaders are often framed in terms of what the mayor wishes to do when, constitutionally, the mayor is not the decision maker, it is the CA.”
It adds: “The way some decisions are being handled is now causing real concern”.
Mr Palmer admitted it was “frustrating” that it had got to the point where the chief executives had had to write, but referring to an internal review which is being carried out, he added: “I believe the chief executives are happy with the direction we are taking.”
The Peterborough Telegraph contacted the city council which said Mrs Beasley was happy that a review was going ahead. Lucy Nethsingha, who chairs the authority’s overview and scrutiny committee, described the letter which was first revealed by the Cambs Times - as an “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” intervention.
The letter was first sent to Martin Whiteley on the same week in August that he “resigned” as CA chief executive. Questions have been raised over the quiet nature of his departure and his severance payment.
The PT got hold of Mr Whiteley on the phone this week but he declined to answer our questions. Asked if he wished to talk about his severance payment, he replied: “No, of course not,” before ending the conversation.
Mayor James Palmer and Martin Whiteley