Wales Online today reports of the 'outrage' felt by Plaid's AM and MP for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr at the £20,000 fee paid to the Council's Chief Executive for acting as returning Officer for last year's election.
This level of recompense is of course nothing new. It is standard practice and adds a substantial amount to the salary of Chief Executives across the country - including here in RCT. We agree with the comments made by the Plaid representatives, although you have to wonder why it has taken them so long to catch on to the issue.
There is a chance that this practice could be stopped if the will is there amongst Assembly Members. The Local Democracy Bill currently going through the Assembly could put a stop to it, although again it has to be asked why Plaid AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas didn't bring this issue up at an earlier stage. There is currently a public consultation exercise on-going which closes on 13th February - details can be found on link.
The initial round of consultation took place last year, and a report came to RCT Council in July. Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell raised the issue of Returning Officer payments in the Chamber, but the Labour contingent as usual declined to agree with his comments.
"I would argue that no, it is not right for someone to get a bonus payment for this that is more than many on the minimum wage earn for carrying out a full time job. Any extra money which comes in to the Authority for overseeing elections should go into the general coffers."
The whole subject of senor officers pay has been the subject of some debate lately after problems in Caerphilly and Gwynedd hit the headlines. Whilst the public often criticise the payments made to elected members it seems that until recently the subject of the salaries paid to senior officers in Local Authorities and elsewhere has not engaged the public to the same extent.