What happened when I tried to inspect candidates’ consent to nomination forms at Birkenhead Town Hall?
By John Brace (Editor)
First publication date: Wednesday 12th April 2023, 14:00 (GMT).
During the election period (once the nomination period has ended and before polling day) the nomination papers and candidate’s consent to nomination are available to be inspected.
As it (usually) runs more smoothly if they know what I want to look at in advance rather than just it being a big surprise, there had been a series of emails between myself and Wirral Council about what I wanted to look at (the candidate’s consent to nomination forms for candidates standing in the election of councillors for Bidston and St James, Claughton and Heswall) and Wirral Council knew I ’d be there on Tuesday 11th April.
When I arrived at Birkenhead Town Hall, I went up to the first floor, to find that those working on the election were behind locked doors that could only be opened with a key card (which obviously I didn’t have) and there was no doorbell. I tried knocking on that door, but nobody answered. Going back down the corridor and turning left, I found another door with a piece of A4 paper stuck to the door with “Election Office” on it.
The door was locked, so I knocked on the door and waited. I was ignored, so I knocked again. The poem The Listeners by Walter de La Mere springs to mind at this point in this tale. Eventually my persistent knocking led to someone answering the door. I explained what I was therefore and was told to go to a different room which was next door.
There I explained (again) what I was there for. The person I’d previously been in email contact with was running a training session at Wallasey Town Hall and not answering their mobile phone.
However, I was then told I couldn’t inspect the candidates’ consent to nomination as the person speaking thought that they might contain home addresses (they actually don’t contain home addresses as you can see of the example of Elizabeth Anne Grey standing in Bidston and St James ward above) and to come back in an hour.
So I returned as requested an hour later, again knocking on the unanswered door. Eventually a person angrily answered the door and barked in a frustrated way, “I’m in a meeting!” at me.
This drawn out saga is now starting to become less like Walter De La Mere’s The Traveller and along the lines of Douglas Adams quote:-
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
Once again I explained why I was there and this time was told to wait in the corridor outside. Shortly after, a very apologetic Wirral Council employee appeared with the paperwork I had requested to inspect.
What did suprise when I calculated the average age of the candidates in Heswall, Bidston and St James and Claughton is (I’ve just included the four political parties already represented on Wirral Council in the analysis below and for clarity have included those who have withdrawn) is how similar the average age of a candidate standing was across different political parties. In the Labour Party the average age was 54.9 years, for the Conservatives 57.7 years, in the Lib Dems 57.3 years and the Green Party it was 57.8 years.
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4 thoughts on “What happened when I tried to inspect candidates’ consent to nomination forms at Birkenhead Town Hall?”
John, you didn’t cover the average age of the well-represented Freedom Alliance Party who are standing in 19 of the 22 Wirral wards. If you had, it may have helped voters who want to pick a new face. Thanks.
Thanks for your comment. There were only 2 candidates for the Freedom Alliance Party standing in these 3 wards compared to 9 candidate for Labour, 9 for the Conservatives, 6 candidates for the Lib Dems and 8 for the Green Party.
So I felt that with such a small sample size (2) an average age of candidate based on 2 candidates might not be a large enough sample size to be reflective of the wider group of candidates. However one candidate was 75 years old, the other 61 years old making the average age of the 2 Freedom Alliance Party candidates 68 years.
And there’s me thinking the two Town Halls were closed, well Wallasey as they are spending £95 million building new offices in Birkenhead, and i thought the Birkenhead Town Hall was used as a Museum or art thingy.
But reading what you have to go though to get information etc, and the walls they put up goes to show the whole system needs to change, when you voted in the past it was supposed to be a secret vote, but you have a code number next to your name, so they know who you voted for, now they want a photo of you, so they now know what you look like who voted for them!
Thanks for your comment.
I’m pretty sure (by the people I saw going in and out whilst I was waiting outside) that Birkenhead Town Hall is also used for appointments to register births too. It’s also used for registering deaths.
The constructions of offices in Birkenhead isn’t as far as I know finished.
Regarding the secrecy of the ballot, yes who you vote for is still secret, but a record is kept of who has voted as the marked register (a register of who has voted) is open to inspection after the election by candidates and political parties.
After the election I think they also keep the ballot papers for a certain amount of time too, in case there’s a court ordered recount after the result is declared.
Each ballot paper is also individually numbered, when you go to vote in a polling station, the number of the ballot paper issued to you will be recorded.
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