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Group of board members at combined authority say they will ask Government for emergency help if Mayor does not step down

A majority of board members of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) have tabled a motion that says it will ask for emergency help from the Government if the combined authority's Mayor does not resign or voluntarily suspend himself until all of the matters referred to in a confidential report are resolved.

Five out of the eight board members have convened an extraordinary meeting to take place on Friday (20 May), at which they are inviting the Mayor, Dr Nik Johnson, to step down.

If the Mayor has not met the demands of the board within seven days of the passage of the motion, the CPCA Board "shall be deemed to have passed a motion of no confidence in the Mayor," the motion reads.

It adds that the CPCA shall immediately send a request to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) "to request emergency support for the CPCA to assist the CPCA in fulfilling its legal responsibilities given that there will have been a breakdown of trust between the Mayor and the Board".

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The motion, including the confidential report, was forwarded immediately to DLUHC.

The Agenda Document for the extraordinary meeting says that votes of no confidence in the context of the CPCA are "symbolic" only and do not have the effect of removing an elected mayor from office.

Mayor Johnson was first elected as a Labour councillor for St Neots East in 2018 before being elected Mayor last year (May 2021).

The ultimatum comes as an investigation into Mayor Johnson's handling of the resignation of an advisor was launched earlier this month.

A whistleblowing inquiry found Nigel Pauley, advisor to the combined authority and the Mayor, "caused stress and strain to colleagues," according to a BBC report.

Mr Pauley told the BBC he “utterly refute[d] any improper behaviour on the part of myself or the mayor, who is a person of utmost integrity”.

Mayor Dr Johnson said: "“I can’t comment further whilst there is an ongoing investigation as I am fully committed to that process and would not like to do anything that could jeopardise the integrity of that process".

Adam Carey

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