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Questions surround combined authority chief's departure

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Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CA has announced the departure of chief executive Martin Whiteley - just 14 months after his appointment.

LGC understands that Mr Whiteley had been on extended leave from the CA and yesterday’s announcement was only made following an internal leak to the local press.

Cambridge City Council leader Lewis Herbert (Lab) said: “There’s not been any proper explanation as to why the chief executive has left and we need to get to the bottom of the issues in the leadership of the combined authority.

“What we’ve got to have is a combined authority and not just an organisation built around the mayor. Leaders, including me, will be asking for a clear plan - pressing for much greater focus on getting the right people into the top jobs. We want to be a professional organisation moving forward and to deliver what is an ambitious agenda for our fast growing area.”

Cllr Herbert added that there was also a lack of clarity over the status of the council’s section 151 officer role, due to “a lack of any formal communication”.

A CA spokesperson said the section 151 role was held on an interim basis by Karl Fenlon, who replaced Rachel Musson as interim chief finance officer in July. Interim deputy chief finance officer Noel O’Neil currently serves as section 151 officer for the CA’s business board.

Mr Whiteley joined the combined authority as interim chief executive in July 2017, before later taking on a permanent role which was shared with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LEP - a role he joined in November 2017.

In a statement mayor James Palmer (Con) said: “Martin has now decided that the time is right to move on to new challenges and I wish him well in the future. It’s now time to recruit a new chief executive to take us into a new phase of accelerated delivery over the next few years.”

LGC contacted Mr Palmer but he declined to comment further from his statement. Mr Whiteley has also been contacted for comment.

Deputy mayor Charles Roberts (Con) told the Ely Standard that Mr Whiteley remains chief executive until the end of September.

In Mr Whiteley’s absence, the CA’s current monitoring officer Kim Sawyer will share the chief executive’s role with John Hill, chief executive of East Cambridgeshire DC.

LGC has also reported concerns over Mr Palmer’s involvement in the appointment of a Conservative councillor to the position of strategy and planning director.

 

 

 

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