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New leadership at Cambridgeshire County Council sets out the road ahead

Cambridgeshire County Council’s annual meeting today (Tuesday) has agreed a new Joint Administration to lead the work of the council.

The move comes following a Joint Agreement signed by the leaders of the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent groups on Friday May 14.

In the agreement, the Joint Administration placed Covid recovery for all of Cambridgeshire – children and families, local businesses, and working people - and bringing forward targets to tackle the climate emergency, at the top of its ambitious policy agenda and pledged to work closely with partners inside and outside the council wherever possible.

Change of venue for Cambridgeshire County Council saw members meet in a hangar at Duxford. (47305777)
Change of venue for Cambridgeshire County Council saw members meet in a hangar at Duxford. (47305777)

And as a first step in its new agreement Joint Administration today confirmed an immediate annual saving of £72,000 in member allowances as a result of changes it has made to the county’s committee structure.

The meeting held at Duxford to ensure COVID security, saw Councillor Lucy Nethsingha become leader of the council, having been confirmed as chair of a new strategy and resources committee (SRC) responsible for the overarching co-ordination of the council’s corporate services, with Coun Elisa Meschini appointed as the committee's vice chair and deputy leader of the council.

“Children and young people have missed out on so much over the past year, we must ensure that real support is there for them and their families, when they need it,“ said Coun Nethsingha in her first speech as leader.

She continued:“This is why our agreement talks of renewed investment in our youth services, including making sure children continue to receive free school meals during the school holidays.

“Many small businesses have also been hit hard, and we will work closely with the new Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to improve adult education for those who need to re-train, and to increase access to apprenticeships and vocational education across the whole county.

“We know work patterns will have changed, and we will work with our friends and colleagues on the Greater Cambridge Partnership to understand what new working patterns will mean for public transport and broadband use.

“The joint agreement is also clear that we must act faster to tackle the climate emergency. We will be reviewing the council’s climate strategy and working to more challenging targets for a zero carbon council.”

“Health inequality will also be at the heart of all our policies, with real integration between health and social care critical to improving the way we look after our most vulnerable residents.”.

The joint agreement sees the reduction from seven to five of the service and policy committees, with the work of the previous commercial and investment committee now largely within the remit of strategy and resources, and that of the health committee forming part of the remit of the new adults and health committee – reflecting a new integrated care role for the council working with the NHS.

“I am excited to be a part of this new joint administration with a commitment to deliver change for the people of Cambridgeshire. We have an ambitious programme and, over the next four years, we want to see an acceleration towards a net zero carbon council by 2030."

Coun Meschini said: “Among the commitments from our agreement that we had already honoured by the time today’s meeting was over include.

"A saving of £20,000 a year to four ‘community champions’ by deleting those posts from the membership of the communities, social mobility & inclusion committee.

"Saving an extra £52,000 a year in total in special responsibility allowances for two chairs and two vice chairs of the commercial and investment and health committee

"Setting up an immediate appraisal of the county’s current arrangements on fighting the pandemic, as a first step towards setting up a Covid recovery plan."

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