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Posted by: John Brace | 9th June 2017

How did general election night in 2017 go on the Wirral?

How did general election night in 2017 go on the Wirral?

                                            
Accredited Observer John Brace Electoral Commission 2017 7857

Accredited Observer John Brace Electoral Commission 2017 7857

I was always planning on publishing a report on the first general election I have been an election observer for and this is it.

Polling station – Holy Cross Catholic Primary School (AC – Birkenhead Constituency (Bidston and St James ward))

When I visited this polling station along with my wife (who was also an election observer), we were both there to vote.

So I told the Poll Clerks who we were and our addresses. Unfortunately they initially didn’t give us ballot papers as one of them was too tired to look up our address properly. We live in Boundary Road and the poll clerk instead of looking at the page for 134 Boundary Road to mark the register, was instead looking at a different page for a different part of Boundary Road where there is an elector with the number AC 134 instead. This caused a delay in receiving our ballot papers.

They were apologetic about it.

The Count (Wirral Tennis and Sports Centre)

We then walked the short distance to the count centre which was to be held inside the Wirral Tennis and Sports Centre.

Unlike in May, for the Mayoral and Claughton byelection, the gate to the footpath was padlocked, so we went round to the entrance to the car park.

We were immediately stopped by Wirral Council’s Community Patrol who insisted we wait by the entrance to the car park (this was while Wirral Council staff, councillors and others arrived unchallenged).

I explained we were both election observers accredited on an individual basis by the Electoral Commission and therefore entitled to attend the count. I showed them our photographic ID.

Obviously this was a part of elections Wirral Council hadn’t planned for or expected as Community Patrol insisted we wait while they find someone.

We waited for about 15-20 minutes (which is fine for myself but Leonora after the walk from the polling station was suffering a little from the standing as there was no chair to sit on). Even the police officer was feeling sorry for her!

Eventually Kate Robinson started walking in our direction with two men either side from Community Patrol.

We walked towards them.

We then had to explain again that we were election observers accredited by the Electoral Commission, here was our ID etc.

She wanted to look at our ID and didn’t seem happy with our presence.

She insisted we wouldn’t be allowed to use recording equipment in the count. I pointed out that in my opinion wasn’t a lawful instruction and that we only had to follow lawful instructions from the election authorities. I pointed out that in my view it breached the Human Rights Act 1998 and asked for the name of her manager to appeal the decision to. She said that was Eric Robinson (Acting Returning Officer) who she said wasn’t there.

I pointed out that I didn’t have recording equipment on my person anyway. I had an iPad to use but that was for making notes as I have a writing disability (that makes it painful to write).

She then gave us both a short lecture about not telling anyone anything at all about what happened during the count for “secrecy” reasons.

Anyway, she went with us to where people were checking in by the turnstile and it was insisted (despite me pointing out earlier about the writing disability making it painful to write) that I write our names and individual observer numbers on the attendance list.

We were then instructed to go through the turnstile, which Leonora pointed out she couldn’t do as it’s impossible for someone with a walking stick to go through that design of turnstile. So she went round through another side door instead.

We then walked down a corridor past the refreshments area. Unlike election counts in previous years where the tea and coffee had been free (but a voluntary donation suggested) Wirral Council was charging for drinks and food this year. From memory hot drinks were a £1.

It is also to be noted (unlike the Mayoral count and Claughton byelection in May) that this time the whole Wirral Tennis and Sports Centre was closed to the general public from 6 pm on the Thursday to 6.30 am on Friday morning (the tennis hall where the count was held was closed to the public from Monday to Saturday).

The count itself was being held in a large room in the leisure centre called the tennis hall which is usually tennis courts. The netting to catch balls around the sides was still in place, but the floor covering had been covered with a white floor covering kept together with tape.

One half of the hall was for the count for Birkenhead and Wallasey constituency and was also where ballot boxes arrived.

The other half of the hall was used for the Wirral West and Wirral South constituency counts and a raised stage for the platform for announcing the result.

Both halves of the hall had a projector and a screen showing the BBC election coverage.

In the middle in the raised area up steps was an area for the media where they had their video cameras set up and other equipment. From memory the Wirral Globe, Liverpool Echo, BBC, Radio City and others from the media were all there.

At 10.00 pm Eric Robinson (Acting Returning Officer) announced over the PA system that the count of the postal ballots would start. Around this time the BBC announced the result of the exit polls.

A short time later, the ballot boxes started arriving from the polling stations. Counters sat at flip down tables, with baskets on the table and paper clips.

Just before 11.00 pm I went for a walk past the Wallasey constituency tables and somebody dropped a large number of ballot papers on the floor. Thankfully they were bundled in bundles of 25.

The Birkenhead and Wallasey counts went quicker, therefore a result was expected earlier.

By twenty past twelve, Kevin McCallum (Head of Communications) (I had asked him earlier for turnout figures) told me that the turnout for Birkenhead was 67.9%.

A result in Birkenhead was announced at around 1:10 am, Wallasey at 1:45 am, Wirral West at 2:03 am and Wirral South at 2:12 am.

We had made earlier requests to film the speeches of the candidates after the result was declared but this was denied.

The candidates returned were Frank Field (Birkenhead), Angela Eagle (Wallasey), Margaret Greenwood (Wirral West) and Alison McGovern (Wirral South).

Mayor of Wirral Ann McLachlan announced the results for the Birkenhead and Wallasey constituencies. Stephen Burrows (High Sheriff of Merseyside) announced the results for Wirral West and Wirral South constituencies.

Here are some quotes from the speeches we would have liked to have shown you. Frank Field referred to it as a “disaster for the Prime Minister”, Angela Eagle said that the “country rejected Theresa May” and referred to her [Theresa May] as a “vampire avoiding the sunlight”, Margaret Greenwood referred to a “stunning victory” and Alison McGovern thanked many groups of people including the people reporting on the count.

There were also some speeches from the second placed candidates who in summary congratulated the winning candidate and then went on to make various political points.

Once all four results were declared, people started to go home.

If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this result with other people.


Responses

  1. “Netting to catch balls” eh John? Would they be the balls of the Returning Officer commanding “up to £27,000”, according to the Torygraph, for his role?

    And the media could record it but you couldn’t? How does that work?

    Good God, so somebody wants you and Leonora to comply with a made-up-on-the-spot requirement for secrecy do they JB?

    Inside Wirral Council it seems there’s a huddled mass of oppressed, brain dead, pushover, easily-manipulated, powderpuff, salary grabbing 5h1t 5t41ns working hard to protect the bogus “dignity” of the crooked basket case.

    All standing in closed ranks and blocking openness and transparency at every turn.

    Do they have any idea what they are defending, these ars3h0le5?

    Stupid question. Of course they don’t. If they’re prepared to go into close huddles with crooked senior tw4ts, to devise plans to attend court and molest the nearest battered bible, lie under oath and hoodwink a judge battling slow onset dementia in order to conceal criminal activities, then we are all doomed.

    I’m in sweary mood today despite the election result. The thought struck me that Theresa May, not content to cross the pond and walk hand in hand with an orange man, will be clambering into bed with a crowd of throwback, bigoted Orange men, who see their dreams realised in ridding the country they occupy of Catholics, gays, and who knows? Why stop there? Disabled, elderly, homeless, ‘illegitimate’ ….non-orange, non-white?

    All very Wirral Council in fact. Don’t let minorities or feckless, burdensome poor people get in the way of your grand vision.

    I voted for Angela Eagle yesterday but, to continue her analogy, only so the non-Blairite members of the Labour Party get the chance one day to drive a stake through her heart.

    / Rant not over /

    • Well I did overrule the Returning Officer’s discretion to decide he didn’t want certain people (us) at the count by our status as being election observers! Filming would be a step too far and a threat to his authority as Acting Returning Officer I guess!

      In front of their own staff Chief Executives don’t usually like being overruled or embarrassed do they? Especially by someone who isn’t a politician.

      Yes the media could record (photos, film, audio etc) anything they liked, as could everyone else there with their cameras on their phones apart from us. We were told we couldn’t because we’re not there as press but there as election observers, which led to some somewhat Kafkaesque conversations.

      As to secrecy, as far as I remember there are some legal requirements about secrecy (that is not telling people outside the count how somebody specifically voted as ballot papers are individually numbered), but as usual Wirral Council doesn’t understand the specifics but just repeats what they’ve been told by other people! It would be impossible for me to figure out how any particular person had voted by being at the count!

      In answer to your question how does that work?

      Because certain people at Wirral Council treat us the way they often do their own employees (but probably worse as they don’t have a duty of care to us) and then act surprised when we don’t behave like someone on the payroll!!!

  2. So after all those millions of punds have been spent, which could have gone to some good causes, no change then! pointless, just pointless!

    • It costs around £140 million (maybe a bit more) to the taxpayer to hold a general election.

  3. G’day John

    Sounds like you had a good day out.

    That pig flu can be a ***** can’t it, or turn you into one.

    You say

    Eventually Kate Robinson started walking in our direction with two men either side from Community Patrol.

    I was going to ask if one of them was the bloke she was attached to at the hip for the two weeks of that recent court case errmmm “Sir Git” and his new partner of voting £££££££££££££££££££’s Ecca.

    Then I realised they wouldn’t be there that early or give a shit about “community”.

    Ooroo

    James

    I bet they were there to collect their obscene pay.

    • On later reflection and discussion with Leonora it may have been one person in Wirral Council’s Community Patrol and the other was a police officer. The uniforms for Wirral Council’s Community Patrol and those for Merseyside Police are similar.

      • G’day John

        The uniform was irrelevant they were both not on your side whatever.

        Ooroo

        James

        They are above the law My Boy.

        • The law however states that accredited election observers may attend the proceedings of the counting of votes.

          The law does not state, accredited election observers should barely be let in the car park, told to wait for 15-20 minutes, then given a lecture, then allowed to attend the proceedings of the counting of votes!

          • G’day John

            Don’t say you didn’t expect **it.

            Have you been to fairy story time at Brighton Street this morning.

            Cabinet asked to approve £1 billion Wirral regeneration plan

            John were their five or six more turbo charged dunnies installed?

            Ooroo

            James

            John do these half wits think anybody believes their crud and dross?

            • Wirral Council’s Cabinet meets next Monday (19th) James.

              Although you can read the agenda and reports on Wirral Council’s website by following this link.

              Tonight, there’s a meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee at Wallasey Town Hall.

              • G’day John

                How much extra blood money does “The Pretend Friend” get for being the thicker than the chair and the previous dubious chair of The Fudge It and Risk It Mis-Management Committee?

                How much more or less is that than his previous Kitchen Cabinet post?

                Ooroo

                James

                They seem to like the worst of them in this position.

                I wouldn’t trust him even in a Santa suit.

                • The Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee receives an extra £4,585 a year.

                  Cabinet Members receive an extra £9,171 a year so the Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee is paid £4,586 less a year than a Cabinet Member.

                  • How much for the Santa suit John????

                    • No idea James, I’m not sure whether he provided it himself or the charity he was raising money for provided the costume.

          • A lecture John.

            Thats probably how she gets the job.

            I bet “Sir Git” enjoys a good lecturing from her.

            I have never seen two employees so close for two weeks in any job I’ve had.

            Joined at the hip and not sure there was always one foot on the floor.

            Ooroo

            James

            I do hate public shows of affection.

            wink wink “Shyster”

            Ooroo

            James

  4. G’day John

    So is this why “Ankles” gets the big bucks at Misery Travel?

    In that rubbish paper from over Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant wirral Waters

    Eight Wirral bus routes set to be axed in shake-up

    Why John?

    Is it because “Ankles” and his boy “Philly Liar” side with Uncle Joe instead of the real politician?

    Ooroo

    James

    And John, don’t get me started on the £1 “Legweak” company that is going to be gifted all of wirral’s assets.

  5. G’day John

    The annual nonsense about closing libraries

    In the rubbish paper from over Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant wirral Waters

    Could ten libraries be closed in Wirral as council tries to save cash?

    Yesterday they had a billion quid to waste on a tower and downgrading Hamilton Square and Woodside.

    Ooroo

    James

    The only reason they would want the libraries closed is to prevent anyone getting as smart as you or “Highbrow” and challenging them.


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