Counters do not deserve criticism

Having read the reports on the local elections and referendum and the resulting count, I would like to make the following comments.

Firstly, I would like to thank Ian Sumnall for his support and praise for the vote counters and indeed for his sterling work over the years as returning officer.

I was, however, dismayed to read the comments made by district councillor Dr James Walsh that he ‘had never known a count take so long’ and suggesting this showed a lack of staff with election experience.

While this might be true, I think he should have taken into consideration other factors.

1.The referendum count could not start until 4pm, when many of the staff were assigned to that, resulting in a reduction of staff to deal with the district, town and parish counts.

2.The turnout of voters was exceptionally high this year for local elections and there were there were three separate counts on the day.

3 The system employed is laborious but in view that many of the results were very close, I am sure Dr Walsh will appreciate great care had to be taken by the staff, particularly when tiredness was setting in towards, what was for many, the end of a second long day, to ensure the results were accurate.

4 I also do not think it is helpful when candidates stand over the counters and make comments

or talk among themselves about their social calendar. While I appreciate candidates are entitled to watch over the proceedings, it would be preferable if they could talk quietly so as not to disturb the concentration of the counters.

As one of the many volunteer staff employed at the count, I would like to say it ill becomes a district councillor of Dr Walsh’s long standing to be critical of their efforts and feel a public apology should be forthcoming.

Jean Morgan

St Thomas Drive,

Bognor Regis