Apology over West Norfolk election count error accepted
A candidate who lost out on a West Norfolk seat in last month’s election has accepted an apology from the borough council following an error with the counting process.
Independent Paul Bland missed out on a Woottons seat to his opponent Graham Middleton, meaning the Conservatives kept control of the borough council with a majority of one.
Mr Bland considered a petition after an initial count favoured Mr Middleton by three votes, before a second count then gave Mr Bland 30 more votes than his opponent.
After a third count then declared Mr Middleton as the winner by 11 votes, Mr Bland questioned the apparent 40 vote difference between the original count and first recount.
Looking at the tally sheets, the borough council later found that the tally sheets used for the first recount had in fact been incorrectly printed.
Jim Moriarty, leader of the independent group for the council, said a written apology from chief executive of the borough council, Ray Harding, has been accepted.
Mr Moriarty added that initial questioning to the borough council had been unanswered.
However, “responding to pressure”, the borough council did eventually honour the query.
A spokesman for the borough council said: “It was a letter explaining the first recount, which was a vote recording error on the counting sheets, and apologised for this.
“Mr Bland has accepted the apology from Ray Harding and has been in himself to inspect the counting sheets and is satisfied that the result was correct.”
As a result of the discovery, Mr Bland will no longer be seeking to petition the result.
Mr Moriarty, speaking to the Lynn News, confirmed that both he and Mr Bland were satisfied the incorrectly printed sheets were the cause of the wild swings in the vote counts.
He said “further steps were not necessary”.
The paperwork for the first recount only had 90 boxes for votes to be recorded, when it should in fact have had 100 small boxes for votes to be tallied up.
The count for some candidates, including Mr Bland, had therefore been exaggerated by roughly 40 votes.
Election agent Ian Sherwood previously told the Lynn News he would be “comfortable” if Mr Bland did seek a formal petition.