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CAPCA chief executive wants poor behaviour ‘called out and dealt with’

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Snarling, bickering, ill-tempered and political point scoring members of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) have been warned to call it a day.

“Poor behaviour at board meetings has become normalised – such behaviour needs to be called out and dealt with appropriately,” says a report overseen by interim chief executive Gordon Mitchell.

The report, part of a £750,000 transformation/improvement initiative, is polite but damning in its assessment of what must be done.

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Mr Mitchell says the ‘improvement framework’ going firstly to scrutiny committee and then to the full board this month, “is strong”.

And he concedes it “runs the risk of board members defaulting into arguing about the past – the need to ensure focus is on moving forward”.

The report says it is “important to sharpen how bad things really are whilst also offering a way forward” and to explain what could change.

As background, the report offers a reminder of the “concerns raised by auditors that the organisation needed to take steps to ensure it had ‘sufficient appropriate leadership capacity”.

That was needed to deliver its objectives and statutory responsibilities followed by engagement with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities highlighted a range of concerns that needed to be addressed.

An improvement plan is taking shape to look at what had happened but to identify changes that were needed.

Themes covered in the report include:

1: The development of an overarching strategy for the region.

2: Establishing clarity of purpose

3: The mayor Dr Nik Johnson “developing the right behaviours and a strong outward facing role”.

4: Board members who are individually sufficiently self-aware and skilled to go beyond parochial party politics to establish and practice a culture of pragmatism for the benefit of the region.

5: An effective and efficient organisation, which works as part of the local system.

6: Priority areas of focus – establishing clarity on the scale of political ambition and develop an overarching strategy for the remainder of this mayoral term, and to chart the next steps on that journey.

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7: Prioritising work to establish a long-term strategy for transport, an urgent development of a bus strategy and review the role and functioning of the business board.

8: Undertake a strategic review of income projections, including options, to secure sustainability and the possibility of taking a more strategic approach to the application of funds for identified priorities

9: Design and implement an organisation for performance, and with the agility to act on emerging demands and opportunities

10: Map the approach, capacity and arrangements needed to build an effective public relation and influencing delivery operation.

The report also looks to achieving resolution of the current investigations, a recruitment strategy, and a period of stability in the workforce.

The report says moving forward they hope to see “a huge reduction in tension and frustration in the board, and in dynamics and focus”.

Additionally, they want members to feel their time is spent on “worthwhile debate and activity”.

Other outcomes expected are:

1: Recognition that the mayor has secured greater attention from ministers and influential stakeholders for the region’s needs.

3: An absence of political point scoring in board noticed by all interested parties.

4: That staff in CAPCA and the local authorities view board members as “role models for good behaviour, collaboration and working towards consensus”.

5: CAPCA staff recruitment and retention improves.

6: Recognition that a ‘devo deal two looks possible, even likely”.

7: That CAPCA has matured and “supports the mayor and board with a feel of ‘one CPCA’”.

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