£1,350 a day (plus VAT) for new chief executive at combined authority

Gordon Mitchell (left) new CEO of the Combined Authority with Mayor Dr Johnson

Gordon Mitchell (left) new CEO of the Combined Authority with Mayor Dr Johnson - Credit: Archant/CAPCA

Gordon Mitchell who has been appointed interim chief executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) is not unfamiliar with controversy over his salary.  

CAPCA confirmed his appointment for which he will be paid £1,350 a day plus VAT – a salary that provoked some criticism when it was revealed earlier this month.  

But followers of Mr Mitchell’s career path will be familiar with a similar outcry eight years ago when appointed to Great Yarmouth Borough Council. 

His wage of £995 a day plus VAT at Yarmouth was described as 'obscene' and 'hard to justify' before councillors approved it. 

At Oxford, one of his most recent appointments, he was paid £159,505 as chief executive, but without criticism. 

He comes to CAPCA having been a chief executive at Nottingham City Council (2003-2006) and chief executive at Bracknell Forest Borough Council. 

He has also held interim posts at Tewkesbury and Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council. 

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For the CAPCA role it has been revealed he beat two other candidates.  

Mr Mitchell said: “I’m looking forward to working with the mayor and Combined Authority to help them tackle the current challenges and strengthen the effort to improve the prospects and prosperity for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. 

“I have already got a strong sense that the key individuals want to strongly develop their collective leadership, re-focus on delivery and champion the area as effectively as possible. 

“There is much to do but I am struck by the huge potential to improve the quality of life for people, communities and business in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.” 

CAPCA says that throughout Gordon’s career he has contributed to public life in a range of roles through boards of creative enterprises and health trusts. 

He also has experience in education, economic development and regeneration over the last 15 years. 

Mayor, Dr Nik Johnson, said: “I am reassured that by working together on this appointment we have a CEO that we can all stand with, work with and support. 

“I very much look forward to working with Gordon whose track record as an interim CEO working with councils going through transitions gives me great confidence.” 

A recent CAPCA board meeting heard criticism of the pay structure for the interim chief executive.  

Cllr Anna Bailey said: “While I was very impressed by the quality of the candidates who came forward at the extraordinary employment meeting last Friday (24 June), and particularly the one who was selected, we have to note the huge cost of this exercise. 

“We were told that the daily rate for our interim CEO equates to a cost of approximately £582,000 per annum. 

“This is a cost that we can ill afford quite frankly, given the other things that are going on at the CPCA and is therefore of huge concern. 

“But we do need somebody right now. I think we’ve selected a good candidate, and I have high hopes that he will be able to come in and make a difference.” 

Deputy Mayor, Cllr Lewis Herbert responded: “Mr Mayor, I cannot compute the number that Cllr Bailey has stated, and I do think it would be useful if officers advised what that number is. 

“A sum of £1,350 times over 300 days becomes that sum; but that’s more than the days in the year according to my calculations.” 

Cllr Bailey replied: “It was stated by our Head of HR at the last meeting.” 

After the meeting, the discourse on the sums involved continued on social media, with Cllr Herbert commenting: “We need a high-quality CEO and the amount claimed is factually wrong, as I immediately corrected today.” 

Cllr Bailey responded by saying: “Whether it’s £430,000 cost per annum or closer to £580,000 per annum – the figure given to us by officers at a previous meeting – is, I think, something of moot point. 

“The point is that whether it is £430,000 or £580,000 both figures are huge and should never have been necessary if it wasn’t for the actions of ‘The Mayor’s Office’.”

CAPCA says the contracted day rate for the role is £1350 plus VAT.

"This figure is benchmarked against other roles of similar responsibility and with the goal of balancing value for money with the ability to attract talented candidates," said a spokesperson.

"The role of interim CEO is contracted via Solace in Business for five days a week, for a six month period."