Changed how local election votes will be counted due to covid restrictions

The May local election tally must be spread over more than one location due to coronavirus restrictions, a council chief has revealed.

Two by-elections for borough councilors are due in Redcar and Cleveland on May 6, as well as elections for the mayor of Tees Valley and the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner.

Informing advisers of the plans, John Sampson, managing director of Redcar and Cleveland Council, said: “There will be special arrangements with respect to the tally itself.

“We don’t have the capacity to allow the volume of people you would normally see [at a count].

“The counts for the CPC and the mayor were generally carried out at one location in Billingham.

“[This year] we will carry out individual counts district by district in order to manage the number we expect to attend.

Last month it was reported that local elections would be held in England, despite the ongoing pandemic, with £ 70million made available to town halls to make polling stations ‘Covid-safe’.

Mr Sampson suggested that the board could use Portakabins if necessary and pointed out that staff who attended the elections were generally “of one age”, meaning they fell into vulnerable covid categories.

A report said a larger workforce needed to be recruited for emergency purposes if individuals were to self-isolate.

Mr Sampson said: “We have done a lot of work to lay the groundwork, the normal polling stations will be as is except one or two, where we had to make other arrangements.

“It was mainly around schools and I didn’t want to close a school just when they are back up and running.

“We are reviewing the covid security arrangements we need to put in place with regards to the elections, but we will be giving further updates and we are preparing to make sure they are safe and operational.

“A large portion of our election workers fall into the vulnerable clinical category, due to their age, and we will ensure that they are still suitable for holding elections. “

He added: “Some neighborhoods have only one building [to be used as a polling station] which tends to be a school.

“We have considered deploying Portakabins on the site of a school where we are having difficulty meeting the covid aspects in terms of single entry and exit.”

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