Mayor James Palmer (£75k a year) takes a calculator to newly elected MEP Lucy Nethsingha (£100k a year) and has some questions too
PUBLISHED: 16:36 03 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:19 03 June 2019
She's not even drawn her first pay cheque but Euro MP Lucy Nethsingha is already facing a demand from Mayor James Palmer for 'clarity' over whether she intends to remain a Cambridgeshire councillor.
The £75,000 a year Tory mayor of the combined authority has worked out the newly elected Lib Dem MEP is now earning considerably more than him.
"Bearing in mind the importance of the elected positions that Cllr Nethsingha holds and the fact that she now appears to be receiving over £100,000 per year from the taxpayer I absolutely believe that we need clarity from her on what her plans are," said Mayor Palmer.
He pointed that her MEP salary is worth around £90,000 a year and she picks up £10,000 a year as a city and county councillor.
He claimed that "a number of local councillors" had questioned whether she can continue in all three roles.
"My feeling is that legally there is nothing to prohibit this," he said.
"However, on a practical level, I find it hard to believe that one can be an effective representative for the people of the East of England in both Brussels and Strasbourg whilst also being an attentive and effective local councillor."
The pro Brexit mayor added: "My understanding of being an MEP is that it's very much a full time demanding role, especially at the moment.
"Therefore I can only assume that Cllr Nethsingha will be primarily based in Brussels. How can anyone do this whilst also be an effective city and county councillor in Cambridge?
""Bearing in mind that the job of the new Lib Dem MEPs appears to be to block Brexit and prevent our departure from the EU I can only assume that if Cllr Nethsingha has any confidence in this strategy working then she expects to serve as an MEP for a good time yet."
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He drew parallels with a former Cambridge councillor who refused to resign despite moving to Scotland.
Cllr Nethsingha was "very vocal" in calling for his resignation said the mayor "and therefore I initially assumed that when it became clear to Cllr Nethsingha that her new principal place of work would be in Belgium she would be announcing her resignation as a councillor.
"From what I've heard, it very much looks like she intends on continuing as a councillor."
Cllr Nethsingha told our local democracy reporter Ben Hatton that she intends to continue as a councillor, but will not seek re-election next May if it is clear she will be continuing as an MEP.
When pushed on whether she is delaying the decision to sure up her future before giving up her council seat she said "there is an element of that," but defended the move, saying "being a councillor is not normally considered to be a full-time job" and to the extent she had made it one she has drawn back by stepping down as the leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the council.
She also said that if her second source of income was not from a political role she would not be criticised for changing jobs.
"It is very unclear whether I will have any role in the European Parliament after October 31," she said. "If there is further clarity on that then obviously I can make further decisions, but at the moment it is very hard to make long term decisions."
But she clarified: "I will not stand as a councillor in May if I am still an MEP."
She said she was "slightly surprised" the mayor had commented on her situation.