Jobs merry go round will see John Hill stay as joint shared chief executive of combined authority after failure to find £185k replacement for Whiteley

PUBLISHED: 16:49 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:49 16 May 2019

Chief executive John Hill looks to be confirmed as joint chief executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. He will stay in charge at East Cambs but share the top job at CAPCA. Picture; ARCHANT

Chief executive John Hill looks to be confirmed as joint chief executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. He will stay in charge at East Cambs but share the top job at CAPCA. Picture; ARCHANT

Archant

John Hill can expect a bumper pay day if Mayor James Palmer wins approval to confirm his appointment as joint chief executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA).

An announcement from the authority today confirms they have abandoned the hunt for a £185,000 successor to Martin Whiteley who left suddenly last year with a £94,000 pay off.

Instead Mr Palmer is hopeful of gaining approval from the CAPCA board to confirm the current joint interim chief executives as permanent.

It would mean Mr Hill, who is also chief executive of East Cambridgeshire District Council, would share his time between that role and that of joint chief executive of CAPCA with Kim Sawyer.

Ms Sawyer was legal counsel and monitoring officer of CAPCA before being promoted to acting joint chief executive after Mr Whiteley's departure.

Mayor Palmer wants to offer joint chief executive roles to John Hill of East Cambs - who will stay in that job - and Kim Sawyer

In a 1500 word press release today the mayor's office explained that the joint chief executive roles would be in place until May 31, 2021 to coincide with mayoral elections.

He said that by sharing the top job, CAPCA would achieve a net saving of £62,000 without revealing how much each chief executive will earn.

Earlier this year we revealed that Mr Hill was being paid an extra £29,000 a year on top of his East Cambs salary which is shown in council accounts as being between £121,683 and £133,827 per annum.

With a Tory majority on the CAPCA board Mayor Palmer can expect it to ratify both appointments - along with that of his successor at East Cambs and former CAPCA deputy mayor Charles Roberts to a £54,000 a year part time advisory role.

It will be the latest in a number of appointments to CAPCA from East Cambridgeshire that included his political PA Tom Hunt (a former district councillor for Ely) and Paul Raynes of Isleham, a former county councillor, to director of strategy and planning.

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In February we also revealed that the East Cambs director of operations Jo Brooks - whose salary range is from £78,269 to a maximum of £95,662 - had been carrying out extra duties for CAPCA.

She was reported as earning an extra £797 per month (£9,500 per annum) by way of an "additional responsibility allowance" in recognition of the work arising from the temporary/part time secondment of Mr Hill to CAPCA.

East Cambs commercial director Emma Grima, paid between £78,269 and £95,662 per annum, also had a secondment to CAPCA earning a further £725 a month (£8,700 a year equivalent) as project director.

Mayor Palmer cautioned that the board could opt for an alternative which was to instigate a new recruitment process for a permanent chief executive "and what the arrangements would be with the interim joint chief executives in that scenario".

He said: "What the combined authority needs now is stability, continuity and a focus on delivery, with just two years left of the mayoral term.

"We have an organisation which is now better geared to the delivery of our priority projects and I don't believe we can now agree to disrupt this momentum once again by going out to recruitment.

"To restart the recruitment process would result in a wait of many months before being able to appoint, and then there would be a period of bedding in. This is time I don't believe we can afford."

In defence of their appointments on a permanent basis, Mayor Palmer said both interim chief executives had undertaken a root and branch review that has delivered "exceptional results".

He added: "It was clear the staffing budget had grown far too high under the previous chief executive and their work has found £1.8 million in savings for 2019/20."

Of Mr Hill, Mayor Palmer said: "Although he would be managing two chief executive roles, this kind of arrangement is not without precedent.

"Indeed, in our area alone we have a joint chief executive of two very large authorities in Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, both with larger budgets and staffing numbers than our own."

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