The spectacle of a Labour mayor of a Combined Authority offering himself for a public grilling by a Conservative dominated local authority is to be denied to those tuning into live YouTube streams from Fenland District Council.
Mayor Dr Nik Johnson has declined the invitation to step into ‘the lion’s den’ to meet Fenland councillors formally – but says he will meet them for “a members only briefing sessions (with senior Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority officers)”.
The saga of whether he ‘would or wouldn’t’ agree to such a meeting has finally been cleared up.
Fenland Council overview and scrutiny committee said they had a long-standing agreement for the mayor to attend one of their meetings.
But a report to the committee, explained that the goal posts had changed.
A briefing note presented to councillors said a request to invite the mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) to one of their meetings was extended last year.
Mayor Johnson had originally planned to attend the overview and scrutiny meeting at Fenland Hall, March, on December 5, 2022, to “discuss the levelling-up agenda for Fenland”.
But as Mayor Johnson had by then notified CAPCA of his three months leave of absence for health reasons, the opportunity to address Fenland councillors fell to his deputy, Cllr Anna Smith.
“Arrangements were made for Cllr Anna Smith to attend instead but notification was received on 24 November that this was no longer possible due to other mayoral commitments,” said the report to the committee.
Updates throughout the year noted progress.
“Update 27 02 23: Cllr Smith is unavailable for O&S on 27 February 2023, but member services have been in discussion with the mayor’s office and a calendar appointment has been sent to Mayor Johnson in the anticipation that he would be able to attend.
“However, his office has now declined that meeting and a meeting will need to be arranged in the new municipal year,” said the report.
“Update 26 06 23: New municipal year has commenced, with a new administration and the mayor’s office will now be contacted again with a view to securing a visit from Mayor Johnson as soon as possible.
“Update 19 09 23: Member services contacted the mayoral office on 26.06.23 to rearrange the visit of the mayor.
“A response was received 18/07/23 as follows: The mayor isn’t attending individual council meetings; however, he is happy to attend members only briefing sessions (with senior CAPCA Officers) which is very similar to a meeting he had recently with South Cambs District Council.”
The committee was told that its officers would “review the response” from the mayor’s office to decide what to do.
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