Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council Cllr Steve Count admits to spending more time on combined authority role

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count - Credit: Archant

The leader of the county council has revealed he is spending more time on his role at the combined authority than he is leading the council, as measures to make the combined authority more “democratic” are brought in.

New measures to allow decisions at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to delegate decisions to committees rather than having to have everything signed off by the board were given the green light last week.

On Wednesday (July 25), the board was told there is “considerable pressure” on the board and portfolio holders to make the CA “more democratic and inclusive”. It is hoped a committee system will help move towards that and spread some of the mounting workload that has built up as the authority took on more roles and powers.

A report which went before the board said: “The impact of working to deliver against the rapid pace of growth means that the Combined Authority will have an increasing level of business over the coming 12 months. It needs a responsive governance framework that allows for decision making outside of the monthly Board meeting.”

A transport committee will be set up, as will a skills committee, and a housing and communities committee. A further report will be brought to the board in September to confirm the changes to the constitution and the appointments to the committees.

Cllr Steve Count, Conservative leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, welcomed the change, and said the workload on board members (particularly those who were also council leaders) had become far too heavy.

Cllr Count said: “The workload at the moment is not just unworkable, it is untenable. The workload for the combined authority is exceeding that at the county council.

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“I think it is absolutely right that the board members make the decision. For me, it is very much a ‘suck it and see’ situation.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said he believed in a portfolio system, and asked how big the decisions the committees would be able to make would be.

Conservative Cllr Anna Bailey acknowledged that the combined authority had taken on more roles and responsibilities from government.

Cllr Bailey said: “The combined authority has been established to take on new powers from government, and with new powers come new pressures.”