Calls for independent review into combined authority rejected

Lib Dem leader councillor Lucy Nethsingha slams Cambs County Council for Christmas to New Year unpai

Lib Dem leader councillor Lucy Nethsingha slams Cambs County Council for Christmas to New Year unpaid leave cuts - Credit: Archant

Calls for an independent review to “restore public faith” in the combined authority have been rejected.

Today (Wednesday, September 26), the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority was called upon to commission an external independent review. The call was made after a series of resignations - including the departure of former chief executive Martin Whiteley in August - and claims that the authority is suffering a lack of transparency.

In a motion to the board of the combined authority, Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said there needed to be an independent review into the combined authority to help restore confidence in the organisation. Cllr Smith said a review had to be carried out by an external organisation, as there were not the resources or the expertise to carry it out “in house”. Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, seconded the motion, saying the combined authority was becoming “too Ely based”.

He said it needed to be collaborative and voiced his concern that the quality of reports and projects was below what he had expected.

Cllr Herbert said “several mistakes” had been made due to a lack of a coherent infrastructure strategy. But the motion was voted down, with James Palmer, mayor of the combined authority, saying an internal review was already under way.

He told the board he had asked newly installed joint interim chief executive John Hill to undertake the review, which would look at the structure of the authority. Mayor Palmer said: “I have asked Mr Hill to do a review of the structure of the combined authority. We are an embryonic organisation and have absorbed the LEP, which was a failing organisation, which has brought its own challenges.” Mayor Palmer also said he was “absolutely convinced” of the quality of the projects the combined authority is already involved in, and said they were “on schedule” to be completed on time. Speaking after the meeting, Lucy Nethsingha, chairwoman of the combined authority’s overview and scrutiny committee, said the committee would now be looking at some of the concerns which led to the call for the independent review.