Tory leader takes new role at 'top table' of Labour Mayor

Cllr Chris Boden has new role at combined authority

Cllr Chris Boden, left, the Tory leader of Fenland Council has agreed to be lead member for public health at the Combined Authority, which is headed by Labour Mayor Dr Nik Johnson (right) - Credit: Archant

The Conservative leader of Fenland District Council has accepted the invitation from Labour Mayor Dr Nik Johnson to play a major role in promoting public health across Cambridgeshire.  

Cllr Chris Boden is one of two new appointments – the other being that of Cllr Bridget Smith, the leader of South Cambs Council to head up environment and climate change.  

Dr Johnson said creating the new roles was central to the work of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.  

The roles will sit alongside existing lead member responsibilities for housing (Cllr Lewis Herbert), Skills (Cllr Lucy Nethsingha), Transport (Mayor Dr Johnson) and Economic Growth (Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald).  

The main responsibilities for the environment and climate change role are to lead on the 31 recommendations of the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Independent Commission on Climate. 

These were approved for adoption by the Combined Authority Board in June.  

Cllr Smith will also focus on net zero carbon targets, renewable energy, and fostering strategic relationships with public bodies, the private sector and voluntary groups on environmental issues. 

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Cllr Smith said: “There is no greater threat to all of our futures than that posed by climate change. 

“If we do not act now the consequences will be catastrophic both for our region and for the rest of the world. “ 

Main responsibilities for the public health lead member are to promote how the Combined Authority’s work can improve reducing health inequalities in the region. 

These will include healthy life expectancy, healthy active ageing, mental health and wellbeing, preventative health, Covid-19-related public health infrastructure and community support. 

Cllr Boden will also be tasked with “strategic relationship building” with Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group and health providers in the region.  

Mayor Dr Johnson said: “It is essential public health and the environment is at the top table.” 

He said: “Climate change is by far the biggest threat humanity has faced and every action we take must recognise this fact.  

“And improving public health in a region where so much inequality exists, not least in measures of life expectancy, is a moral imperative.” 

He said both roles were created “because progress in these two areas will help define what a successful Combined Authority looks like”.