Good morning and welcome to this morning’s Annual General Meeting of the Combined Authority Board.
This time last year I described the Combined Authority as being on life-support.
I also said as a Doctor, I had never walked away or turned my back on a difficult situation, and I wasn’t about to start.
On reflection those words were somewhat prescient for personal events later in the year but now a full 365 days on, I sit here delighted to be back at the helm and I remain more committed than ever to continuing the journey of transformation and change that I started two years ago.
This organisation exists to support and serve the residents, learners, and businesses in our communities. And we are now on a firm footing, delivering consistently on clear priorities which will make a huge difference in the coming months and years.
Last 12 Months
The last 12 months have been incredibly challenging for me both personally and as Mayor but today, I am reinvigorated and determined to deliver the vision that this Board agreed in January of this year.
We agreed we want “a prosperous and sustainable Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Driven by our values and using our collective voice and strengths, we seek inclusive good growth for an equitable, resilient, healthier, and connected region.”
At the heart of my vision is the creation of good quality jobs and opportunities for all. Having a good job means more than just a good income; it represents a stake in society, dignity, and hope for the future.
We are investing to create thousands of good jobs, and we are also aligning our work on skills to ensure we are training people to do the jobs of the future.
I am determined to deliver better bus services, particularly in our more rural areas. network: started work on a Cambridgeshire Area Transport system –not quite Fen Tigers but the start of a CAT network; affordable and reliable bus services for every community is a prize we are all united around.
And the richness of our heritage, culture, arts, and sports is an asset on which we can base a stronger leisure and tourism offer. I would like to see us become a County of Culture, and the Fens become the first East of England UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Members of this Board and the Business Board for their support in developing our shared vision and now I look forward to us coming together, putting party political differences aside and delivering for this region.
I happy to confirm that following conversations with each Board member I am working on the ambition that each leader will take responsibility for delivering different aspects of our shared vision. The formal nominations will be coming later in the meeting but before that I want to formally acknowledge each member of the board.
Over the last 12 months, I have been incredibly lucky to have been supported by so many incredibly caring people both personally and professionally.
I want to start by thanking my wife and children. They have been with me every step of the way, there were highs and lows throughout my recovery, and they were my strength throughout it all. I couldn’t have done it without my family and want to thank them for enabling me to be back doing the job of Mayor that I love.
I also want to thank Councillor Anna Smith for leading the Combined Authority during my absence and the steadfast commitment to public service she demonstrated by taking on the role.
Anna continues to support me on a daily basis, and I appreciate her guidance, support, and enthusiasm. I am very lucky to have such a dependable Deputy.
Finally, I want to thank Gordon Mitchell, our interim CEO. This is Gordon’s last Combined Authority Board meeting and the leadership he has given to the organisation since joining has been one of the major catalysts for the positive change that has been delivered.
Gordon joined the Combined Authority at a critical time and made an instant positive impact. We will continue to benefit from the work Gordon has done long after he leaves the Combined Authority and I want to place on record by thanks to him and wish him well for the future.
Next week, we will welcome Rob Bridge, our new permanent CEO – this follows and builds on a series of permanent senior appointments we made earlier this year.
To have been able to appoint a new CEO of the experience and calibre of Rob, demonstrates just how far we have come as an organisation.
Rob is passionate about the region, and I look forward to working with him, alongside our many partners and stakeholders, to build on the solid foundations which have been built up throughout our transformation and change journey.
Behind Rob is a team of Officers who I also want to thank for their continued dedication, hard work, and commitment.
Local Government staff don’t always get the credit they deserve but all of our officers have been at the forefront of driving positive change and we are lucky to have such a strong team.
And of course, it is not just about the team here at the Combined Authority.
All of us are part of something bigger.
It’s a community -made up of all our constituent authorities, our thriving business ecosystem, the wider public sector and those groups and membership organisations that can provide so much valuable input into the work we do.
Going forward the partnerships that underpin our Cambridgeshire & Peterborough community will be more important than ever.
You might have heard me take about collaboration before – but it really matters.
We can’t deliver our ambitious plans for the region in isolation, we must, and we will work together to unlock the region’s full potential and improve opportunities for all.
So, to conclude:
We have a shared vision to create more and better jobs, connect our communities and take pride in our heritage and culture.
We have a Combined Authority which is geared up to deliver
We know our communities are relying on us
So, let’s make sure we make it happen.
(Dr Nik Johnson is mid-way through a four year term as Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. He was addressing today’s annual general meeting of the combined authority)
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