ELECTION organisers have defended the late declaration of results in the area.
Chris White’s victory for the Conservatives in the Warwick and Leamington seat was the last but one of the 650 declarations made nation-wide – with the estimated time of the declaration pushed back a number of times.
When the result was finally announced just before 2pm on Friday (May 8), Prime Minster David Cameron was already at Buckingham Place informing The Queen he would be forming a majority government.
And Jeremy Wright’s re-election to the Kenilworth and Southam seat was only made some 30 minutes before that of his Tory colleague Mr White.
Both counts were carried out for the first time at Stoneleigh Park with counting not starting until late Friday morning after verifying all votes were in.
A number of readers have questioned why election organisers Warwick District Council was so late declaring having previously managed to announce results in the early hours of morning.
Ben Wesson, former Warwickshire member of Youth Parliament and current Political Assistant to the Labour Group at Northamptonshire County Council, described the council’s organisation as ‘utterly shambolic’.
He told The Observer: “I’m proud to tell people I’m from Warwick and Leamington. Most people I know feel the same. However, last Friday morning I was embarrassed.
“Embarrassed because Warwick District Council was the penultimate constituency to declare its General Election result – 16 hours after counts had begun.
“You can perhaps understand the reasons for the delay in St Ives – which came 650th – because they have to fly ballot boxes in from the Isles of Scilly. What’s the excuse in Warwick and Leamington?
“It’s just not good enough and we deserve better. It’s time for the council to get its act together.”
But the district council hit back at the criticism in a statement issued to The Observer.
“Administration for the three elections, with over a 70 per cent turnout for each constituency, which also included checking ballot boxes from Rugby and Stratford that shared a polling station with voters from certain wards in Kenilworth and Southam, amounted to the processing of almost a quarter of a million ballot papers and 22,000 postal votes.
“Given the wide area covered, some ballot boxes had to travel from the far edges of the constituencies to the verification tables at the count at Stoneleigh Park, some arriving at the same time late at night.
“The sheer volume of work involved, and the security arrangements made at the count location that required all staff to be off site by 4am, meant that the verification process had to be adjourned further in to Friday morning.”
“Our aim throughout the entire process was to deliver an accurate count for both constituencies for all three elections and we are satisfied that this was delivered as planned. We have taken on board feedback about these processes from all parties and will ensure recommendations are implemented for future elections.”