Elections 2021: Portsmouth City Council chief executive explains how elections were affected this year by Covid measures

A YEAR since local elections nationwide were postponed for 12 months, Covid-19 is still having an effect on how democracy is carried out.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 4:42 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th May 2021, 5:39 pm
The count at the Guildhall - usually all 14 wards would be counted at once - today it was only three

In Portsmouth the polling, verification and counting have been spread out over three days - rather than the usual 24 hour rush that sees results coming through in the early hours of the morning.

And social distancing measures have had an impact on how the counting is carried out.

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Recap: All the results as they came in today in Portsmout, Havant and Gosport

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The count for Havant at Havant Leisure Centre. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

In pre-Covid days the results for all 14 wards in Portsmouth would be counted in one room - the auditorium at the Guildhall. But this time around the count has been spread across four rooms and split into three shifts to ensure the safety of those involved.

Chief executive of Portsmouth City Council and its returning officer, David Williams, said: 'It has been a very different experience this year.

‘Obviously it's not just the count, it's the set up at the polling stations and making sure all staff have PPE. We also need to make sure all the voters are properly protected throughout the process.

‘It means the count is distributed across rooms. Usually it has a buzz about it, with the room full of candidates and agents. This is a much more subdued affair.

'But I'm pleased to say it's gone incredibly efficiently and well. A huge credit goes to the hours and hours of work by the amazing staff.’