General election: Spen count to be held in Huddersfield

GENERAL election votes cast in Spen will be counted overnight in Huddersfield, not Cleckheaton, this year.

Wednesday, 27th January 2010, 3:34 pm

The announcement by Kirklees Council follows speculation that checks on postal votes could threaten the traditional general election night count.

Chief executive and returning officer Rob Vincent said its new arrangements meant the count would begin as soon as the polls closed.

He said: "There will be a number of logistical issues to overcome to allow us to count immediately, not least to cope with the suspected high volume of postal votes which have to be verified.

"While this process will begin at the first opportunity, I am not anticipating results to be called until well into Friday morning, perhaps around 5am or 6am."

This year, all votes cast in Kirklees will be counted at a single centre in Huddersfield.

Mr Vincent said it would help the council make the best use of experienced staff, limit time lost transferring postal votes around the district and simplify transport arrangements.

He said that if a recount was called for one constituency, staff from other constituencies would also be on hand to help.

"We cannot be moving staff between Huddersfield and Dewsbury in the early hours of the morning and senior staff with experience are limited in numbers," he said.

"By holding the count in one place, we hope to recruit sufficient reliable, experienced counting staff."

If the local and general elections are held on the same day - Thursday May 6 - staff will be given a rest after counting the general election votes.

The count for local election votes will begin at 5pm on Friday May 7 and the result will be announced in the early evening.

Mr Vincent said that some staff would have been working 24 hours without a proper break by the time the general election results were announced.

He said the unusual step of counting local votes at a later stage would mean staff were fresh and alert for the later count.