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Mayor rejects calls for combined authority review




James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's mayor has hit out at calls for an independent review into the combined authority after prominent voices from the business world joined calls for greater transparency.

Yesterday a new business board was created at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. James Palmer, mayor of the combined authority, said it will “succeed where the local enterprise partnership failed in continuing the sustainable development of the region’s economy”.

But voices from the business world have called for greater transparency at the combined authority after board members Cllr Lewis Herbert and Cllr Bridget Smith pushed for an independent review of the Combined Authority

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “We are writing to James Brokenshire, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government to raise our significant concerns into the new Business Board governance arrangements and requesting a full independent public inquiry into this and other key issues as demanded by Board members of the Combined Authority.”

Mr Palmer, however, dismissed the calls, saying his focus was on delivering results for the people of Cambridgeshire rather than “making headlines”.

He said he did not agree that there was a need for an independent review, and said the new business board would help improve the region’s economy.

Mr Palmer said: “John Bridge was a senior member of the failed Greater Cambridge, Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP), so I question how he feels he can speak with any kind of authority about the leadership and governance of the Combined Authority and Business Board.

“These sorts of comments may make headlines, but my focus is on delivering on my election promises to the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

“I do not agree with the need for an external review and in the meantime our work continues at pace.

“Indeed, the new, fully-formed Business Board was launched on Monday, which was founded following the collapse of the former enterprise partnership.

“The new Board features some of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s finest business leaders, which employ tens of thousands of people and are spearheading the growth of our economy. These talented people will help set the agenda for how we can represent and support our business community to continue to thrive.

“The Business Board will succeed in enhancing our local economy where the GCGP LEP failed.”

Tomorrow a motion will be put to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Board asking the authority to commission an Independent Review and implement its recommendations.