Councillors expressed their desire for a traditional late night count following elections within Epping Forest District. Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee received a report from Ian Willett, Returning Officer for the Council setting out a number of issues raised in a review of the May 2007 elections.
Several Councillors argued in favour of a return to late night counts after recent elections counted on the day after polling. Mr Willett explained that since a change in legislation, polling stations were now open for an extra two hours between 7am and 10pm. He was concerned that after such a long day, finding sufficient volunteers willing to continue with counting through to the small hours of the morning might be difficult. He felt that by allowing staff to go home and get a good night`s sleep before commencing the count the following day, he could produce a `less exciting` but more reliable count.
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Where District and Parish elections were being held on the same day, another alternative was to count District Council votes immediately following the close of polls but to wait until the following day for the count of parish Council elections.
Councillors noted that despite the extension in polling hours, other councils continued to hold the count straight after the close of polls and Mr Willett agreed to consider the matter.
The last count was held at Waltham Abbey Town Hall. Mr Willett also raised the issue of whether Theydon Bois Village Hall, previously used for counts was a better venue. He explained that a full election count required the use of two separate rooms at Theydon Bois whereas Waltham Abbey Town Hall could host the entire count within one room. However, Theydon Bois had superior parking facilities and advances in Epping Forest District Council`s use of technology such as large display screens reduced the disadvantage of holding the count in more than one room. Mr Willett also confirmed the purchase of large signs to help candidates identify tables where particular wards were being counted.
Councillors also asked Mr Willett to consider if it was possible to speed up the publication of the nomination of candidates. Publication before the most recent elections had been delayed to take account of public holidays and similar circumstances were not envisaged for several years. However, Mr Willett undertook to review the matter.
Thanks to John Scott
The Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny, Councillor Richard Morgan, paid tribute to retiring Joint Chief Executive John Scott who leaves the Council in July. Councillor Morgan thanked Mr Scott for his great support to Overview and Scrutiny and to the Council as a whole. As one of the longest serving councillors he had known John Scott for more than 25 years. He had always been a great support to Councillor Morgan personally as a councillor and as a friend. He had made an outstanding contribution and Councillor Morgan wished him well in his retirement.
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