Council Raises Fees For Local Election Staff

polling stationScilly’s Council staff will get more money for their work during local elections.

Returning Officer Richard Burraston told members at yesterday’s Policy and Resources meeting that there had been no increase in rates since 2005.

In 2013, members had to intervene to ensure that the pay for the Poll Clerk did not fall below the government minimum pay level.

It was becoming increasingly difficult to find staff, he said in his report, because they’re “reluctant to do the same work for less money.”

The local authority is now also expected to provide training to election staff and he said it was “proper and right” that people who give up time to do this should be compensated.

He proposed bringing Scilly’s payments into line with those of Cornwall Council.

While there would be no increase in hourly rates for count and clerical staff, both at £13 per hour, they would receive £45 for attending the training sessions. And staff providing the training would get £125.

But it was payments made to the Returning Officer that caused confusion for one councillor.

That role currently commands a fee of £196 per contested ward in Scilly. With the five wards in the islands, that’s a maximum payment of £980.

But the report stated that Cornwall pays £400 per seat, not per ward.

Cllr Richard McCarthy said with 13 seats in St Mary’s that could mean a payment of £5,200 to the Returning Officer for that one ward alone. He said the figures were “ambiguous.”

But Council Chairman Amanda Martin said it was “absolutely not ambiguous in the slightest” and they’d clearly discussed the figures in previous meetings.

She then admitted she’d misread it and thought it was £400 per ward.

Members approved the changes to the payments, with the amendment pointed out by Cllr McCarthy.