Returning Officer for Cornwall and Devon?
One of the other items on yesterdays Cornwall Council meeting was the question of should the Chief Exec, Kevin Lavery be the overall returning officer for the (if they happen) Police Commissioner Elections. Which if the Bill passes though Parliament these elections will take place in May 2012. As a side thought; everytime I hear the word Police Commissioner I think of the 1970’s TV series of Batman.
Let’s clear up a few points first. The Police Force of Devon and Cornwall has been as one since 1967, and before I was born. I have blogged before about the funding issue of more money going to the Devon side of the border; so that is not for today’s argument. Nor is the level of Police cover this side of the Tamar. Also the big debate of should there even be a Police Commissioner. These issues are important, but are not for today’s argument.
The argument is should the Chief Exec be responsible for these elections. What benefit is it to the Cornish Tax Payer? You could argue that the Electoral Service is the best in the South West and has been recognised as such. So, because Cornwall’s is the best then it should do the elections. It is a fair point, and one that I don’t totally disagree with.
The real problem I have is this role will require the Chief Exec’s time. If it all goes smoothly, then it should be less, but if there are any problems, then we might see less of our man. Another issue is the Government has not confirmed it will reimburse the council for any costs for this role, or worse, the whole election. Should the Cornish tax payer have to pick up the tab for any problems from across the border? The same could be said of the Devon tax payer paying for Cornwall.
Time away from his main duties is not what the Cornish tax payer is paying for. This role has the potential to add further costs to the Cornish tax payer that we need not incur. There is also a financial benefit for the Chief Exec taking on this role. This election like the General Election amounts to over £16k payment. Before everyone jumps up and says he is paid far too much in the first place; he shared this money out with Cornwall’s Electoral Services .He did not have to, nor is there any guarantee he will again. However, the Chief Exec in this role is also personally liable if anything goes wrong (he does though have insurance against this).
Should the Chief Exec take on this role? At yesterdays council meeting the majority of Councillors present thought not, and voted 47 – 36 against him taking on the Devon and Cornwall role.
Do you think the right decision was made?