Labour mayor spent taxpayers’ money on pasties and marmalade

·2 min read
Nik Johnson, the Labour mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
Nik Johnson, the Labour mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

A Labour mayor is at the centre of a spending investigation after taxpayers’ money was used to buy pasties and marmalade.

More than £9,000 of transactions - predominantly attributed to the office of Nik Johnson, the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough - is currently “subject to review” by the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA).

The expenditure was incurred on a taxpayer-funded payment card between August and November last year and includes hotel and food expenses during the Labour Party conference.

It comes as Mr Johnson, who took over the role in May last year, faces a separate investigation by the CPCA over accusations he did not take appropriate action in response to the alleged behaviour of an adviser.

Spending 'under review'

Records published by the CPCA set out the spending said to be “under independent review”, the highest of which was £1,730 at a Mercure Hotel on September 26.

Transactions linked to the mayor’s office include £4.45 at the St Ives Pasty Company, £10.50 at Sum-up Marmalade and £53.16 at Screwfix Direct, as well as purchases at Amazon, Tesco, Pret a Manger and Waitrose

Also being examined is a subscription to The Telegraph and an £84.99 payment to “SP So Body Co”, which is reported to be a company selling collagen-based “age-defying superfood”, the documents have shown.

The records stated: “It is expected that some of the expenditure reported will not ultimately be charged to the combined authority.

"Some costs have already been reimbursed to the combined authority."

Whistleblowing complaint

The investigations into behaviour and spending on the payment card were triggered by a whistleblowing complaint last October, according to the BBC.

A subsequent report, seen by the broadcaster, said an investigation into expenditure and expenses incurred by staff members at the mayor's office made "initial findings" that receipt and record keeping was "of significant concern".

It added: "No permission was sought, nor approval given for the use of the government procurement card or for officer expenses to be incurred for spend related to the Labour Party conference."

The report also said Mr Johnson and a strategic adviser, who resigned in February, repaid money to address the card expenditure during the party conference, according to the BBC.

Both the CPCA and Mr Johnson declined to comment on what they described as an ongoing investigation.

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