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Metro Mayor to defer £5k pay rise and job pension, until May 2021

By Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporter

Cambridgeshire Mayor James Palmer told members of the Combined Authority he will defer a £5,000 rise in his allowance and the possibility of a pension, until May 2021.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer has deferred a pay rise for two years.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer has deferred a pay rise for two years.

The decision was announced at their annual meeting on Wednesday (29) following a short but angry disagreement about whether or not it was correct to offer Mayor Palmer the opportunity to regard his fixed-term contract of employment as pensionable.

Councillor Bridget Smith asked Kim Sawyer, Combined Authority interim chief executive: “Is it correct procedure and common-place among other Metro Mayors in the country to be offered such a pension?”

Ms Sawyer said: “No, it’s not the normal position; but it is entirely within the powers of the Board to grant it.”

Councillor Smith replied: “I don’t see why we should offer an incentive like this to the Mayor if it’s not common practice and isn’t done elsewhere.”

But, Councillor Anna Bailey said: “I couldn’t disagree more – what if – God forbid – the Mayor was run over by a bus tomorrow? He would receive no remuneration for the work he’s already done. Surely, if we advertised the position today the pension incentive would be included?”

Mayor Palmer, who had remained quiet until then, announced: “If it eases matters for the board then I’m quite prepared to defer the question of my pension, and the £5,000 increase in my allowance until May 2021.”

Councillor Herbert Lewis called for a vote, but before it could be taken, Councillor Chris Boden said: “I’m disturbed that my fellow councillors should have the need for a vote. Our Mayor has announced at a public meeting he’s willing to defer his allowance and pension – his word alone should be good enough, without the need for a vote.”

The request was withdrawn, and it was noted that the Mayor had deferred both matters to May 2021.

Mayor Palmer currently receives an annual allowance of £75,000. The Combined Authority would have to make representations to central government should they desire the Mayor’s income to be regarded as a fixed-term contract of employment that is pensionable.

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