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.
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…………..