The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) authorised the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Order 2017 No.251 (the Order) on 2 March 2017. It establishes, as a body corporate, the mayoral Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA/the Combined Authority), across the local government areas of: Cambridge City, Cambridgeshire, East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Huntingdonshire, Peterborough, and South Cambridgeshire (the Constituent Councils).

The CPCA consists of the following members: an elected member appointed by each of the Constituent Councils; a representative of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (the LEP); and non-constituent members (non-voting) as may be admitted to the CPCA from time to time (neighbouring local authorities who have been invited to join but who are not full members). With a first term of four years, the CPCA mayor (James Palmer) was elected in May 2017.

The functions of the CPCA, "(…) are those functions conferred or imposed upon it by [the] Order or by any other enactment (whenever passed or made), or as may be delegated to it by or under this Order or any other enactment (whenever passed or made).". The CPCA constitution (the Constitution) groups the functions into 'portfolios', and these are allocated to each Constituent Council member of the CPCA. The Constitution states that key portfolio responsibilities include: enabling economic growth, financial planning, new affordable homes, programme and delivery of infrastructure schemes, skills and public sector reform. The Order provides that Constituent Councils are to meet the costs of the CPCA reasonably attributable to its functions.

Powers

Transport

The CPCA is the Local Transport Authority (the LTA) with the transport functions for the area previously covered by Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council. Together the Mayor and the CPCA are responsible for:

  • Setting the overall transport strategy, and the Local Transport Plan (the LTP)
  • A multi-year local transport budget for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  • Management and maintenance of a Key Route Network
  • Passenger transport.

The Order grants some highways powers to be exercised concurrently with the two existing local highways authorities. These include, the power to enter into agreements with: the Minister or strategic highways companies, and with local highway authorities and strategic highway companies, also the general power of improvement, and a number of other powers specified in the Order.

The Order confers the functions of a Minister of the Crown contained in section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003 on the proposed CPCA, to be exercised only by the Mayor. This is to enable the Mayor to make allocations of the devolved transport budget to the constituent transport authorities.

In April 2017 the CPCA received funding from central government to allocate to the local highways authorities to meet the cost of their highways functions and to distribute the funding according to an agreed formula. That distribution of the total available funding was agreed by the CPCA on 26 April 2017.

Planning and housing

The Devolution Deal (the DD) envisages that the Mayor will implement (using his general power of competence, see below) a "non-statutory spatial framework" for the CPCA area, and for the future development of Local Plans. The DD states that the spatial framework would need to be approved by unanimous vote of the members appointed by constituent councils of the CPCA. 'The Cities and Local Growth Unit' has confirmed the following housing funds: 'Devolution Deal £100m Housing Investment Fund' and 'Cambridge City Housing Gainshare' total £70m, over five years.

Economic development and regeneration

Concurrently with the Constituent Councils, the CPCA has the power to encourage visitors and provide conference and other facilities. The CPCA has duties under sections 15ZA, 15ZB, 15ZC, 17, 18A(1)(b) of the Education Act 1996; and duties and powers related to the provision of education and training for persons over compulsory school age.

The Order provides that the CPCA (and the Mayor) has the general power of competence. Note that this is not the general power of combined authorities under s113A of the 2009 Act which does not apply in relation to a combined authority in respect of which an order under s113D has effect, i.e. the CPCA. Any exercise of the CPCA's general power which involves the transfer of property, rights and liabilities of the CPCA to or from any the Constituent Councils requires the consent of all the appointed members. The general power appears to allow the CPCA to pay grant funding to the University Centre Peterborough to take forward phase 2 of the university development, and to agree the steps to establish an independent 'Economic Commission'. The Commission will inform the strategies, investments and interventions of the CPCA as well as creating an authoritative source of advice and evidence for government, City Deal Board, the LEP other local agencies, and all those that have an interest in the prosperity of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

A full review of all legislation for additional powers available to combined authorities is outside the scope of this briefing. Note that the Explanatory Memorandum to the Order states that the Order does not follow entirely the proposals in the DD, and that in order to devolve the powers agreed in the DD regarding bus franchising, business rates, and skills and to extended borrowing powers , further legislation will be needed.

A number of provisions of the Local Government Act 1972 are stated by the Order to have effect in relation to the CPCA as if it were a local authority: s113 (power to place staff at the disposal of other local authorities) and s142(2) (power to arrange for publication of information etc. relating to the functions of the authority), and s222 (power to prosecute and defend legal proceedings), and section 88(1)(a) and (b) (research and collection of information), Local Government Act 1985.

The constitution

Decision making will be in accordance with the arrangements set out in the CPCA Constitution. In summary, the following functions are reserved to the CPCA Board: the adoption of, and any amendment to or withdrawal of the following plans and strategies: Economic Strategy, Growth Strategy, Transport Plan, Skills Strategy, Housing Strategy, The Investment Plan, Delivery Plan and any others as agreed.

A decision on a question relating to the LTP; any spending plans or plans for the allocation of transport-related funding, require a vote in favour, by at least two-thirds of all Members and including Members appointed by Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council.

A 'Forward Plan' will be prepared by the Mayor and published. Key decisions must be included in the Forward Plan on the CPCA's website. See also the Mayor's 100 day plan.

The general power of competence, is a general power available to the CPCA, and the Mayor.

Powers of the Mayor

See above; the power to pay grant is exercisable only by the Mayor, and in exercising this the Mayor must consult the CPCA and members and officers may assist the Mayor.