Bell name poll chimes a low note with council

What a shame it is that the entirely worthwhile process of naming the Pompey Chimes has become embroiled in political controversy.

It was certainly a good idea from Portsmouth City Council to get members of the public involved by inviting them to vote for their favourites, and in the aftermath of Pompey's FA Cup triumph last May, Harry Redknapp was naturally a popular candidate as the architect of that success.

But as we know, things move fast in the world of professional football. Redknapp, having promised that Pompey would be his final club, abruptly left to join Tottenham Hotspur.

So it was probably wise to have a poll.

Now he has finished second in the vote, and Lib Dem council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson is not happy.

He clearly does not like the idea of having a bell called Harry, but whatever his personal views we think he is right to point out that there seems to be a disparity, with 229 of the 250 votes for Redknapp having come online.

That is much the highest proportion of any of the candidates.

It is common knowledge that online voting is the easiest way to distort a poll, and it would not be the first time if people abused the system.

So Saints or even Tottenham fans could have voted repeatedly for Redknapp out of sheer mischief, to skew the poll and cause embarrassment in Portsmouth.

Of course we cannot be certain this has happened.

It may be true, as Tory councillor Lee Mason suggests, that the high proportion of online votes simply represents a generational trend.

'The younger generation who might have more of an interest in football would be more likely to vote online than go to the library to pick up a voting form,' he says.

But we can be certain that a plot may have been executed here, and in the circumstances we believe it is right that a final decision be referred back to the full council.

Then, whatever the outcome, we can all be delighted when the famous Chimes – named Queen Victoria, Victory, Nelson, John Pounds and A N Other – peal out across the city again.