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John Bridge, the Chairman of Opportunity Peterborough (until March this year), is a board member of the funding body – the Cambridgeshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – that made four separate grants to Opportunity Peterborough worth three quarters of a million pounds.  So he is a member of the LEP Board which awarded four grants to the body where he was also Chairman.

Neil Darwin, the Chief Executive of the LEP from 2014 until earlier this year (and before that the LEP’s Director of Enterprise & Skills and a Board Adviser) was employed by Opportunity Peterborough on secondment to the LEP.  So he was Chief Executive and Board Advisor of the funding body awarding grants to his employer – Opportunity Peterborough.

Cambridgeshire County Council, which is the accountable body overseeing these arrangements, shares a Chief Executive Mrs Gillian Beasley with Peterborough City Council – the council which owns Opportunity Peterborough. So the Chief Executive of the body overseeing any potential conflicts of interest has itself a potential conflict of interest – as Mrs Beasley is Chief Executive of the body which owns the organisation – Opportunity Peterborough – receiving the money.

The four grants made to Opportunity Peterborough were £285,711.76, £265,000, £75,000 and £135,000, yet the dates of these payments is unclear from the LEP’s website.  It is also unclear how any potential conflicts of interest have been managed.

I hope Mr Bridge, Mr Darwin, and Mrs Beasley will now each set out in a statement whether they were part of any discussions relating to these payments, the dates on which any conflicts of interest were notified at LEP Board meetings, and what Chinese walls were put in place regarding discussions relating to these payments or the governance of them.

If constituents have any concerns about why so much was spent with Opportunity Peterborough but so little in Fenland, they should email Mr Bridge direct on j.bridge@cambscci.co.uk.

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