Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority told to reconsider budget

Julie Howell, Rod Cantrill, James Palmer Image copyright Terry Harris
Image caption James Palmer was elected as the first mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in May

A new devolved authority has been ordered to review its estimated budget after it rose by £500,000.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCC), set up this year, originally estimated annual running costs of about £1.3m.

But the authority's scrutiny committee voted against approving it, with one member asking if recruitment plans were "written on the back of a bus ticket".

CPCC said a reason for the rise was that a new authority was being created.

The authority, created under government devolution plans, intends to employ 15 staff, including newly-created housing, skills and transport director roles all on annual salaries above £100,000.

After Wednesday's decision by the scrutiny committee, the process of recruiting any new staff cannot begin until CPCC has reconsidered its budget, the deadline for which is 31 August.

Labour Cambridge city councillor Dave Baigent, a member of the scrutiny committee, asked of the new jobs: "Were these ideas written down on the back of a bus ticket? Were they discussed with councillors in advance?"

Lucy Nethsinga, a Liberal Democrat county councillor, said she had concerns over how these jobs overlapped with those in county and district councils.

CPCC chief executive Martin Whiteley said: "We, with 15 staff, will be substantially smaller than any other devolved authority in the country.

"I don't envisage us creating a big shiny office. We'll be looking to work flexibly across council offices."

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