Big Returns

Returning Officer 008

As you all face the big dilemma on Super Thursday of exactly where to put your X spare a thought for poor Wirral Council Chief Executive “Stressed” Eric Robinson as he struggles to get by on £175,000 + per annum. In addition to which he gets a nice little earner from the Local and Police and Crime Commissioner Elections and based on the last figures available will pocket at least an additional £16,000 tomorrow. Stressed Eric is also in line for at least another  £12,000 for the EU Referendum in June. We estimate that all these payments will take him past the £200,000 mark for the year (and all of which is pensionable) and which takes us into the realms of Monopoly money.

Click to access CEx%20Appendix%2010%20RO%20Fee%20SummaryNov%202014.pdf

In accordance with the Representation of the People Act 1983 the cost of local election is the only one met from the local authority’s budgets. All the rest are funded by central government.Wirral Council is required to appoint a Returning Officer to conduct these elections on their behalf and the Returning Officer is personally (not corporately) responsible for the management of elections. Each local authority is required to place the services of its staff at the disposal of the Returning Officer to help run the election.

So basically Eric gets a big fat bonus for reading the results and taking responsibility for any electoral irregularities.Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you’re a Chief Executive.

This ludicrous idea that there is a special extra payment for running an election goes back to when contested elections were far less frequent (fewer elected bodies and uncontested seats more common). Now this arrangement looks to us like an expensive anachronism.

And we’re not the only ones . John Turner, Chief Executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, said in 2013: “The whole question of returning officer fees needs to be reviewed and brought up to date. It is just another aspect of elections where we need to ask whether it is fit for purpose and appropriate in the modern age.”

If the likes of Stressed Eric are some of the highest paid public servants in the land, How can we continue to justify paying these people extra sums of £30,000 or so just to do another task, for which their salary should be more than enough to compensate them?.

Needless to say Wirral Council has its own unique issues when it comes to Returning Officer fees including we understand the case of a former a Chief Executive who pocketed two Returning Officer fees for the same local elections – like you do.

But we’ll save that absolutely gobsmacking story of greed and corruption for after the elections…………..


6 thoughts on “Big Returns

  1. It would be interesting to see what other senior managers and Super Duper Directors have received in the form of bonuses,ex-gratia payments ,bribes and perks!
    When some staff have been coerced into undertaking additional training to achieve salary enhancements which haven’t been awarded!

  2. I understand that Mr Robinson is just starting Year 2 of his quest to become a Wirral Council Chief Executive Millionaire in just 5 years (at the expense of the Wirral public purse).

    This is in no small way thanks to the Wirral Labour Councillors who awarded him a pay rise (before he even started) of £30,000 (plus 22% oncosts; employer pension contributions, etc.).

    His current pay, including oncosts, for this year is £209,474 plus all those Returning Officer fees.
    Has anyone ever seen him? Has he actually done anything?

    I presume that he will have to come out of his office to make the election announcements, but it will be dark at that time, so he should not turn to dust….pity…

    • I saw him once at the Town Hall. But not for long. He chose to stab the button for the lift before diving in, rather than saunter with me at a leisurely pace, up the deep pile carpeted staircase, discussing rewards for failure and child abuse at Rotherham Council.

  3. The eve of this election is the ideal moment to pause, take stock and call into question not just the conduct / payment of returning officers but polling station presiding officers also. The people who get to usher out the public and lock the doors at 10 pm in order to deal with the sebsitive task of processing ballot boxes. There are far too many polling stations up and down the UK for independent election observers to have any meaningful impact – so it’s back to that 5 letter word ‘trust’.

    But it seems ‘trust’ was never going to be enough. Not given what allegedly occurred pretty much everywhere on 7th May 2015, the date of the last General Election:

    The problem is if you pay large sums of money as an incentive for senior staff to behave honestly and with integrity it ain’t going to work. The incentive gets warped into something else.

    The stakes are simply too high when, for example on Wirral, politicians have an all too easy (in the sense of regulation) stab at ensuring they can continue to abuse the power en’trust’ed to them … and once ‘elected’ (haha) to continue showering the flexible types who presided over the elections with stonking sums of public cash as their reward.

    All will become clear very soon when the…

    •Quix 592 Wallasey
    •Quix 56 Birkenhead
    •Quix 624 Wirral South
    •Quix 625 Wirral West

    …test results are released with their combined figures for illegal ghost or added votes.

    Allegations stated here originate from “Applied I F Limited”


  5. Pingback: A Return to Greed | Wirralleaks

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