Council denies bias after election count venue switch

PUBLISHED: 06:28 24 November 2019

Scotch Horn Centre in Nailsea,

Scotch Horn Centre in Nailsea,

Archant

Ballot papers cast by people living within the North Somerset constituency will not be counted in the area.

North Somerset Council has confirmed boxes of votes will be taken to Weston to be counted, once polls close at 10pm on December 12.

The decision has been criticised by one candidate, accusing council members of favouring Weston over the northern part of the district - a claim the authority denies.

Counts have been held at Nailsea's Scotch Horn and Weston's Hutton Moor leisure centres in previous General Elections. However, the council will to hold both in Weston.

MORE: Who is standing in North Somerset?

Conservative Party candidate Dr Liam Fox criticised the move, describing it as 'nonsense'.

Dr Fox said "It seems to me it (the council) will need the same number of people to do the counting simultaneously whether they are in the same location or not.

"Voters in North Somerset who traditionally have their votes counted in Nailsea will see this as further centralisation to Weston from the new North Somerset Council administration."

But the council has denied the move is politically motivated, saying councillors had no say.

A council spokesman said: "It is entirely the decision of the returning officer.

"For obvious reasons there must be no political involvement in such matters.

"The returning officer must make his decision based on what will enable the administration of the counts to be managed most effectively."

Counts for parish, town and district elections took place at Hutton Moor in May under the Conservative administration, before it lost control to an Independent-led coalition.

The venue for counting will have no impact on which polling station voters will need to attend.

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