Polling day can be a nice little earner for council staff, Kirklees Council has admitted.

Chief executive Adrian Lythgo has confirmed that staff who work for the council are allowed paid leave at the same time as getting paid for counting votes.

The Examiner asked the question following a tip-off from a reader who said councillors needed to reconsider the practice amid a climate of local authority cuts.

But Mr Lythgo, who is also the returning officer for Kirklees elections, said the council had a duty in law to assist the election.

Mr Lythgo said staff employed in polling stations, at postal vote opening sessions and at the count may be allowed one day off, up to seven hours 24 minutes, as paid time.

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But he said to do this many work a 16-hour day on polling day.

Mr Lythgo refuted suggestions that council staff were given the pick of the jobs before they were offered to others.

He said: “We have a database of more than 2,000 people, made up off council employees and also non-council employees who have relevant skills and experience.

Kirklees Council Chief Executive Adrian Lythgo
Kirklees Council Chief Executive Adrian Lythgo

“We write to everybody on the database to see whether they are able to work on the election, and appointments are based on availability and experience.

“Posts are not offered to council staff before the general public.

“Staff employed at postal vote opening sessions are paid an hourly rate, the postal vote opening sessions are scheduled in advance and take place over a number of days.

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“Payment for different roles varies depending on the duties.

“Set fees based upon a national level are paid to staff employed in polling stations, who work around 16 hours on polling day.

“The poll clerk fee is £120 and presiding officer fee is £204. There are variety of other roles paid as either set fees or hourly rates.”

The next election count in Kirklees is the European Referendum on Thursday, June 23.

The polls close at 10pm and votes will be counted overnight. The result probably won’t be known until the early hours of the following morning.