Liberal Democrats win Waltham Forest recount

A specially-constituted election court has announced that the Liberal Democrats have won a recount of the May 6 election result in High Street Ward, London Borough of Waltham Forest.

The recount took place in private on July 30 before a judge at the High Court after a member of the public spotted a potential error at the original count on May 6. It was thought that 1,000 votes may have been mistakenly added to each of the Labour candidates’ tallies.

From the Waltham Forest Guardian:

Lib Dem nominee Mahmood Hussain is now the new councillor for the ward, at the expense of Labour’s Steve Terry.

Nigel Louth, a member of the public who works for the Office of National Statistics, spotted the mistake while checking the results of the poll online back in May.

Waltham Forest Council’s returning officer at the time, former chief executive Andrew Kilburn, previously said that tiredness could have been to blame for any errors.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Bob Sullivan, said:

I am delighted to welcome Mahmood Hussain to the Liberal Democrat Group on the council. At last the people of High Street ward have the councillors that they voted for. The council’s mistake at the count should never have happened. It has cost local taxpayers thousands of pounds in legal fees and deprived local residents of the representatives they voted for.

Mahmood Hussain said:

It is an honour to be elected to serve the residents of High Street ward. I will do all I can to stand up for the interests of local people and make sure that their needs are not ignored by the Labour council. There are lots of issues to take up, including the future of the EMD cinema, looking after Walthamstow market and local services and pressing Labour to come clean on its plans for the Arcade site. I will work with residents to improve safety and security in the area and to protect and improve the local environment.

Mahmood Hussain has lived in Walthamstow for the past 27 years and has always taken a keen interest in the local community. He works locally and is a trustee of a Walthamstow based charity.

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9 Comments

  • Hywel ap Dafydd 8th Sep '10 - 1:56pm

    Another example of why night counts are a bad idea.

  • Tony Greaves 8th Sep '10 - 2:41pm

    I agree with that comment. But how on earth did the Liberal Democrats at the count not spot the error and do everything to stop the RO announcing the result?

    Tony Greaves

  • @Tony

    Tiredness could have been to blame for the Liberal Democrats at the count not spot the error and do everything to stop the RO announcing the result?

    or

    they aren’t as experienced as you?

  • Just to be clear, the count took place on the Friday and not Tgursday night. I think it started at noon and it certainly went on until around 8pm or so. Many of those involved had very little sleep between the end of the parliamentary count in the early hours of Friday and the start of the local election count.

    Reports from people that were there say that in addition to tiredness the count was generally fairly shambolic anyway.

  • highstreetvoiceofreason 8th Sep '10 - 9:29pm

    Sources have told me another reason for the count mistake not being noticed is that the Walthamstow Liberal Democrats were deeply split and had their minds elswhere following an ambitious coup attempt by the former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat councillor group and chair of the Walthamstow Constituency Party, Johar Khan.

    Khan aided by members of the executive, of which Hussain is the membership secretary, deselected three prominent Lib Dem sitting councillors during the election campaign including the then Leader of the Lib Dem Councillor group and Deputy Leader of the Council, John Macklin and cabinet member, Bob Belam. (Between 2002 and 2010 Waltham Forest was a joint administration between the Lib Dems and Labour).

    Sometimes all is not what it seems.

  • Patrick Smith 9th Sep '10 - 3:46pm

    I add my own congratulations to elected Cllr Mahmood Hussain High street Ward.

    I know that Cllr Mahmood Hussain will represent the residents in High Steet with the same selfless resolution in the name of so many defeated outstanding colleague Walthamstow Liberal Democrat Cllrs on May 6th 2010.

    As a defeated Cllr. in Higham Hill several important democratic concerns remain unanswered and should be the focus of a wider Council enquiry:

    1.Why has it taken four months at no mean expense and trouble to the our local Liberal Democrat Group to obtain a recount in High Street Street Ward ? The margoin of error was 1000 votes that suspend human belief to understand how it was allowed to be part of the official record of votes cast on May 7th? The votes were first counted p.m.on May 7th by experinced counting officers.

    2.There were no completed single vote recounts on May 7th,in Waltham Forest, even when the Liberal Democrat Agent and Cllrs asked for one in Higham Hill Ward where former defeated Cllr Sean Meiszner narrowly lost by a margin of 39 votes?

    3.Many questions have been asked since May 6th and none answered as to the exact circumstances of the departure
    from LBWF of the RO and former CE.It was announced that he had left the Council voluntarily but it is believed that a large sum was possibly paid out of the tax payers` purse.

    4.I understand that the LBWF accounts will not be publically available on the matter until June 2011 for scrutiny.

    5.At a time of spending reviews and belt tightening in council budgets should not the voters be aware of what the circumstances were exactly at the time of departure of the RO and CE, who presided over the monumental miscounted Election Results on May 6th? I suggest that to believe the miscounting of Liberal Democrat candidates votes by 1000 was due to tiredness is fanciful!

    6.Why has the official Local Election Results for Walthamstow Constituency on the LBWF site, since May 6th 2010, contained lists of miscalulated collumns for `total votes cast’ for each Ward?

  • Kathy Pollard 9th Sep '10 - 4:46pm

    I wonder if there were Labour members recruited as official counting agents? I was contacted during the elections by a former official who said she had seen counting agents at previous elections in Suffolk add one Conservative ballot paper to the top of a bundle of Liberal Democrat votes. She reported it and the bundles were recounted.

  • NoOffenceAlan 11th Sep '10 - 11:57am

    Time to move to electronic counting for all elections.

  • Nikki Thomson 11th Sep '10 - 1:56pm

    @NoOffenceAlan, we tried electronic counting in Scotland and it didn’t work any more efficiently than manual counting.

    While I enjoy the buzz of election night, maybe there really is a case to be made for following the model for the European elections – where we vote on Thursday but don’t count the votes till Sunday. I know that the delay in the UK is because some countries don’t vote till Sunday, but it would mean that we have staff and scrutineers who are less tired and better able to do their jobs quickly and efficiently.

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