‘It’s going to cost HOW much? asks Cambs Lib Dems as they question staffing costs planned by Mayor James Palmer

How we first revealed the projected costs by Mayor James Palmer of running the Cambridgeshire and Pe

How we first revealed the projected costs by Mayor James Palmer of running the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority - Credit: Archant

Mayor James Palmer is to be called before a scrutiny panel and asked to justify the costs of running his office.

Lib Dem members of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Scrutiny Committee are demanding a rethink of the mayor’s “expensive proposal for staffing his office”.

The Lib Dems says that with members of the scrutiny committee they will be using the ‘call in’ process for a full review.

Councillor Philippa Hart, a Lib Dem member of the authority’s scrutiny committee, said they would be looking at Mayor Palmer’s plans in details and asking him to justify the costs.

“In particular, the mayor will be required to demonstrate that there is no administrative duplication between his aspirations for the region and those being pushed by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (formerly the City Deal),” she said.

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Cllr Hart said that despite his campaigning on a “lean and cost efficient” promise, three months into his term, Mayor James Palmer has put forward proposals which would seek to increase the budget to staff his administration by an extra half a million pounds.

“-In addition to hidden consultancy costs for particular projects - such as investigating how to get a rapid transport system to work into and out of Cambridge - this represents a huge increase in the amount the mayor’s office will cost Cambridgeshire and Peterborough residents,” she said.

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“The mayor told residents he could deliver spectacular results with a lean administration.

“I always doubted this could be achieved, and sure enough he is already coming cap in hand to ask for more costly staff.

“Was he honest with residents when seeking office?”

Councillor Ed Murphy, Labour group leader at Peterborough City Council, is also a member of the combined authority’s overview and scrutiny committee.

He told the Peterborough Telegraph: “Rather than use existing officers where they are already in place, the mayor seems to have gone over the top and is proposing spending too much of the budget on new employees, expensive consultants and his office.”

Mayor Palmer said: “The combined authority requires a number of key posts to lead on fundamental areas of our work programme.”

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