MP speaks of 'some very serious issues' in respect of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and hopes they are resolved 'very quickly'
PUBLISHED: 12:45 18 December 2018
An MP within the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority area has broken ranks to publicly express concern over the way it has been run.
Shailesh Vara, the Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire, believes there are “some very serious issues with regard to the combined authority”.
He said: “We have had now four finance directors since 2017.
“We have seen a chief executive leave who has had a huge pay-off and resigned under circumstances which are forbidden from the public to see, because it’s a sealed agreement – but we do know that it was just under £100,000. All of these give me huge concern.”
The MP added: “Bearing that in mind, I am naturally very pleased that there is going to be an independent external audit that will be looking into matters at the combined authority.
“I know that there has been an internal enquiry that has been going on for a while, but it is important that we have complete openness and transparency because there is a lot of responsibility that the combined authority has.
“It’s important that they resolve their issues very quickly because there needs to be confidence in the local community that the combined authority is fit for the purpose for which it was set up.”
Mr Vara said he had met with Mayor James Palmer at meetings and certain functions and he also came to Parliament “at my request and we had a meeting at which I raised these issues concerning the constituency, as well as more generally aspects which concern Cambridgeshire”.
The MP said the meeting in Parliament “was before all these latest troubles arose, and, at that time, our conversation was very much in terms of the plans and ambitions that he had for the combined authority.
“But since then I’ve met with Mayor Palmer again – not in Parliament – and at that meeting I made it very clear to him that I would like to have certainty, and I hoped that all of this could be sorted out and put aside very quickly, and that action must be taken when required.
“But we do need to resolve the issue and that, at the moment at least, is not happening. My hope is that the external audit will do its work, because for my constituency there are huge projects in the balance – I know the deputy mayor, Councillor John Holdich has said that the University of Peterborough is not going to be impacted upon, but I would like the external audit to confirm that.
“There are many other projects which affect hundreds of thousands of people – way beyond our area – for example the costings for the highways projects on the A47, A14 and A1.
“These are all huge schemes – and the simple fact is that we need certainty from the combined authority for it all to work.”