Elected councillor would support inquiry into large queues that lead to low turnout in Peterborough ward

Elected councillor for Hampton Vale Cllr Lindsay Sharp said that he would support an inquiry into the voting process that led to long queues and a low turnout in Hampton Vale.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 12:02 pm
Newly elected Hampton Vale Councillor Cllr Lindsay Sharp.

The ward was one of 22 (23 seats) being contested in the Peterborough elections on Thursday (May 6).

Cllr Sharp of the Conservative party won the seat with 473 votes, 158 more votes than the second placed candidate.

It represented a hold for the Conservatives, with the seat previously being held by cabinet member for finance David Seaton. Mr Seaton did not seek reelection this time around.

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The turnout, however, was just 22.12 percent, the lowest of any ward in Peterborough.

This comes after complaints from many residents about the inadequacies of the voting process.

The ward was served by a single mobile polling station with only one booth. The one in one out policy slowed down the process considerably and meant that large queues formed towards the end of the day and some were even left queuing past 11pm, when voting was scheduled to end at 10pm.

This is likely to have contributed to why the verification of the votes was delayed and the city’s count was pushed back to 1pm on Friday (May 7).

Given the poor weather and the fact that some people were being asked to wait for over an hour, it is believed that a number of people who had an intention to vote, changed their mind and left the queue.

One resident told the Peterborough Telegraph: I can’t believe that somebody decided that only one booth would be enough.

“I had to wait for over an hour and 20 minutes in the rain but I did see that many left. Given the relatively small number of votes cast, you would have to think that those that people intended to place but could not, would have had a big outcome on the result.

Independent candidate Dave King said: “In the time that I was there I saw many people leave the line.

“People were told as they walked in it could be about an hour so many left.

“After I’d been there for ten or fifteen minutes it started to pour down so several people left at that point.

“The Portakabin had one entrance and people were going in, coming out of the front and then it was being wiped down so each vote was taking up to ten minutes which was ridiculous in my opinion.

“When I got there there must have been 60 or 70 people in the queue.

“I am not complaining for myself, I think all of the candidates should be complaining. There’s no way that everybody had the chance to do their vote.

“I think just one Portakabin was nowhere near enough. I will be asking for this to be looked into.”

In a Facebook conversation on Thursday (May 6) Cllr Sharp stated that he would support an inquiry into why the vote was executed so poorly.

He said: “With turnout looking to be as around previous (taking into account those unable to wait) it’s appalling to end up with the situation of queuing past 11pm.

“If turnout was up, I dread to think what it would have been like. There were some immediately obvious errors in planning and forethought.

“All persuasions were affected and all candidates lost votes I’m sure. It’s not a question of party politics, it’s about everyone’s right to have their say through the ballot box.

“I have spoken to our MPs office but it seems like a management failing.”

Liberal Democrat candidate James Brown, who was runner-up to Cllr Sharp by 315 votes to 473 added: “I hope we don’t see the situation we had yesterday happen again here in Hampton. The long queues in the freezing cold and rain meant many people left and didn’t have their chance to vote.

“I hope the council will learn lessons from this for next year. Many thanks for those who did vote.”