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East Midlands Mayor: Election will cost taxpayers £4 million

The election for the inaugural East Midlands Mayor will cost an “eye-watering” £4 million, accounting for a sizable chunk of the new combined authority’s annual budget.

Papers for the first meeting of the East Midlands Combined County Authority – Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire – detail the super council’s annual budget of £56 million.

They say that the cost of the upcoming election for a mayor to oversee the authority on Thursday, May 2, will cost £4 million – seven per cent of its annual interim spending budget.

The inaugural meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 20, at Chesterfield Town Hall and will be streamed online, with the chosen venue for each meeting set to rotate around the combined Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire patch.

The cost of the election represents the third largest item of spending forecast for the next year, behind £6.3 million on staff and £32.7 million on “supplies, services and subcontractors”.

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Each of the five mayoral candidates was asked for their thoughts on the cost of the election.

The five candidates, alphabetically by surname, as they will appear on the ballot, are Frank Adlington-Stringer (Green Party), Ben Bradley (Conservative), Alan Graves (Reform UK), Matt Relf (Independent) and Claire Ward (Labour).

Cllr Graves, a Derby councillor and the city’s mayor said: “There is no justification.

“There was no referendum asking the people if they wanted another elected politician in the form of a mayor and a new authority that will cost millions every year.

“I believe the people of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire should get the referendum they deserve.”

Cllr Relf, an Ashfield district councillor and executive lead for growth, regeneration and planning, said: “If we had a government that trusted and funded local authorities properly and if our MPs worked together better to promote investment into our region then we would have no need of this new combined authority and the additional funding could have come down to existing authorities.

“However, the current government is following the path of regional mayors and with the right mayor, it does present a fantastic opportunity for the region, with the ability to properly overhaul investment in roads, transport, skills, business support, etc.

“The eyewatering £4 million price tag for the election is something the architects of devolution should answer to as with better collaboration with existing local authorities this money could have gone straight on the delivery of much-needed services.”

The candidates for the Green Party, Conservatives and Labour have not responded as of this article’s publication.

The combined authority budget, which totals £56 million, is propped up by £38 million in annual funding from Government and a number of Government grants for key projects, including brownfield land regeneration, transport, skills and housing.

A report on the budget shows the authority will have £10 million left over to spend following its current spending.

The Government has committed to give the new authority £1.14 billion over 30 years (£38 million per year), alongside a transport funding pot of £1.5 billion, £53 million for adult education and £18 million for housing, brownfield land and other investments – all split over multiple years.

Further reports to next week’s inaugural meeting show a number of executive officers are to be appointed to interim roles.

Mark Rogers, currently interim chief officer of the East Midlands Devolution Programme, is set to be interim head of paid service.

Mark Kenyon, currently director of finance at Derbyshire County Council, will be the interim Section 73 officer – the main financial advisor.

Jodie Townsend, currently interim governance lead for the East Midlands Devolution Programme, is set to be both the interim monitoring officer and senior information risk owner.

Permanent appointments to each of these roles would be approved by the authority board at a later date.

An appointment panel would include whoever is elected mayor and a representative from each of the member councils – likely to be the leaders.

A further four roles would be appointed by this panel, including a chief executive, executive director of inclusive growth, executive director of place and executive director of resources.

Details of the pay which combined authority staff will receive have also been detailed within a report for next week’s inaugural meeting, including the adoption of the living wage for all employees.

This would set a minimum salary for the lowest paid full-time worker of £23,151 a year or £12 an hour.

The authority details that the salary of the highest paid member of staff will be linked to the average level of pay at the super council, not the lowest paid.

Proposed salary ranges for different categories of staff at the combined authority have been detailed.

The salaries of the highest paid, the chief executive, executive directors and statutory chief officers have not been detailed but are listed as being subject to the appointments panel.

  • Lower level directors are to earn between £78,000 and £110,000 per year
  • Heads of service and strategic leads – between £49,498 and £76,566 per year
  • Professional roles such as HR, legal, finance, ICT and procurement – between £36,648 and £49,498 per year
  • Technical or practitioner roles – between £27,803 and £36,648 per year
  • Strong administrative roles with supervision – between £23,500 and £27,334 per year
  • Admin or process roles – the real living wage of £23,151

 

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