Lib Dem parliamentary candidate blasts election as a 'joke'

By Susanna Wilkey LIBERAL Democrat parliamentary candidate Ed Fordham has slammed Camden and Brent Councils for their shambolic management of the elections. He criticised council chief executives and returning officers Moira Gibb and Gareth Daniel and c

By Susanna Wilkey

LIBERAL Democrat parliamentary candidate Ed Fordham has slammed Camden and Brent Councils for their shambolic management of the elections.

He criticised council chief executives and returning officers Moira Gibb and Gareth Daniel and called for them to be denied the bonus paid to returning officers for overseeing the election, which can be up to �20,000.

Mr Fordham said: "It was shambolic - the way the count was done and the postal votes were operated was a disgrace. Neither Moira Gibb nor Gareth Daniel should get the money for being a returning officer - they did not communicate transparently or effectively."


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Postal voters who lived in the Brent part of the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency who did not receive their postal vote in time had to travel to Camden Town Hall in King's Cross to get a new General Election vote, and to Brent Town Hall in Wembley to get a local election vote.

"That is ridiculous," said Mr Fordham. "Especially with the way the Jubilee line has been running. There were lots of people saying they did not get their postal vote. To have two arrangements within one constituency is bizarre."

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Mr Fordham has also slammed the length of time it took to get a declaration for the constituency.

"The count taking 10 hours was embarrassing and there was no public gallery again," he said. "Staff at Hampstead and Kilburn were sitting around doing nothing for two and a half hours while they finished Holborn and St Pancras and then those staff were sitting around while they did Hampstead and Kilburn. They should have done them both at the same time.

"It was not a particularly complex count. All the Brent boxes arrived late because they had gone to Wembley first. Ballot boxes should not have been travelling around London. At one point, someone walked in clutching a handful.

"Moira and Gareth did not get it together. I am not suggesting there was any fraud but confidence in the process is extremely low. It is bonkers and riddled with problems."

Mr Fordham is writing to the Electoral Commission to formally complain about the process and to ask that the two officers do not get their bonus. He is also calling for a review so the arrangements are changed in the future.

He said: "I have no complaint about the outcome of the election, that was the voters' choice, but the way it was administered was disgraceful."

A spokeswoman for Camden said nearly all London boroughs experienced longer count times because of the double election and high turnout, and that postal voters in Brent were entitled to a courier service for their replacement vote if they were unable to come to the Town Hall.

She said: "This was the first time Camden has shared a parliamentary constituency with a neighbouring borough and we will take full account of all the points raised. Our electoral process is not a race and shouldn't be judged on that basis."

And a spokeswoman for Brent Council added: "Camden Council issued parliamentary postal votes separately to Brent residents living in Hampstead and Kilburn wards. Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary ballot boxes were not sent to Wembley to be sorted.

"However, it was necessary for Brent Council and Camden Council to exchange in the early hours of the morning those ballot papers that had been placed by voters in the wrong ballot box.

"In respect to how long verification took, Brent Council wanted an accurate result not a quick one.

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