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Code of conduct battle at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Monitoring officer Edwina Adefehiniti suggested the committee consider use of mediation

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Board members at war with each other were highlighted during a meeting of the audit and governance committee of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. Fresh from resolving a long-standing code of conduct investigation, the committee was told there are no less than FOUR outstanding complaints.

And all FOUR involve complaints by board members against each other.

Committee chair John Pye felt the committee had not seen this number of complaints before and queried if it was a one-off.

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One other committee member referred to it as a “sea of member complaints”.

Monitoring officer Edwina Adefehiniti suggested the committee consider use of mediation – something she had experienced in her role with a previous local authority.

She also felt away days for board members might be the answer “it sounds ridiculous, but I have seen it work” she said, adding that it can “loosen knotty issues”.

Her annual complaints report and update dealt with an overview of complaints from June 1 last year.

“It is important this committee has an overview of complaints received against elected members and any trends,” she said.

Her report invited the committee to make recommendations to the board that could include more training for members.

She said that of the four complaints made in June 2022, three were against the Mayor Dr Nik Johnson and these were concluded via a hearing on 14th November 2023.

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“The fourth complaint is yet to be concluded,” she said.

“This complaint was made by a member against another member; the primary cause for complaint relates to an alleged breach of confidential information.

“In addition, there have been three fresh complaints made in the review period.

“These complaints were made by members against members and the primary cause for complaint relates to comments made in public and/or social media.”

She added: “Therefore, there are four outstanding complaints to conclude.”

She said was contacting each member involved and then she may consult the independent person to discuss if it should be taken further.

The monitoring officer said that for data protection and the need for a fair process, names of those complained of would remain confidential unless there was a decision to go ahead for a formal hearing.

Ms Adefehiniti said the Combined Authority had not previously had this level of complaints which is why she had brought her report forward to the committee.

“I think apart from one legacy, three are the same issue,” she said. “That’s as far as I can go.”

Of the legacy complaint she said she was just waiting to have the view of the independent person back to determine how it should be dealt with.

She suggested code of conduct training could be made compulsory “but I am not sure how well that would be received”.

 

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