Mayor in heated clash with East Cambs Council leader

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson in clash with East Cambs Council leader Anna Bailey

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson in clash with East Cambs Council leader Anna Bailey - Credit: Archant

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson, clashed with East Cambs Council leader Anna Bailey at a resumed Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) board meeting.  

Cllr Bailey wanted to raise questions about the letter received from external auditors, Ernst & Young. 

The auditors had claimed there were “significant weaknesses” in governance of the combined authority. 

And they had suggested CAPCA has “insufficient capacity, capability and an inappropriate culture to support the effective governance and operation of the organisation and how it discharges its statutory services”. 

Mayor Johnson had earlier said discussion of the letter at the board’s AGM was the wrong forum for it. 

But Cllr Bailey persisted, saying: “I want to examine matters raised in the EY letter, are you going to let me speak or not?” 

Mayor Johnson said “No”, to Cllr Bailey several times, adding: “We’ve given initial consideration to this matter.” 

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Cllr Bailey said: “I’ve not given consideration to the matter, and I would like to ask several questions about it before this Board.” 

Mayor Johnson said: “No, we’ve given it initial consideration.” 

A frustrated Cllr Bailey called upon the legal officer to intervene. 

Jodie Townsend, interim deputy monitoring office said management of the meeting was down to the chair (i.e. Mayor Johnson) and he had discretion over “time management” of speeches. 

Mayor Johnson said: “There it is – however, you had a specific question so I will give you the opportunity to speak.” 

Cllr Bailey responded: “So, I have two questions…”, to which Mayor Johnson said: “No, one question only.” 

Cllr Bailey said: “I would like to know the cost of the employment-related plan so that we can make informed decisions about the rest of the agenda today. 

“And I would like to ask about the current level of vacancies and our staff recruitment plan as I see that we’re carrying 36 vacancies in the organisation, three are among the top five posts.” 

She understood CAPCA was advertising for 33 new recruits and wanted to the likelihood of successful recruitment. 

Mayor Johnson, having allowed the questions to be asked, did not acquiesce to a discussion at board level, so effectively the questions from Cllr Bailey went unanswered, and the meeting moved on.