THE countdown to the results of Portsmouth’s local election is on as hundreds of piles of ballot papers begin to be sorted through.
Tension is growing in Portsmouth Guildhall as candidates and councillors who have worked to win council seats keep a close watch on tables where workers are going about the lengthy task of sorting out voting slips.
Firstly, votes for the next Hampshire police and crime commissioner role have to be gone through and counted. The result will then be declared in Southampton tomorrow.
Then work to count all votes for council seats in Portsmouth’s 14 wards will begin.
The results of the election - which sees one seat up in each ward - are not expected to be revealed until around 4.30am this morning.
Some big names are looking to hold onto their positions, including the leader of the council, Donna Jones, Labour group leader John Ferrett, and Lib Dem David Fuller, who if re-elected will be in line to be the next Lord Mayor of Portsmouth.
Cllr Fuller faced scandal after it was revealed he was holding alternative sex parties for men and women at his property in Fareham.
If he loses his Fratton seat, a new mayor will be appointed for the coming year.
The Tories will be looking to gain the majority of seats on the council; they’re currently on 19 and need another three to get there. Should that happen, it would be the first time in two years that a party has gained a majority, and the first time in 25 years a Conservative administration in Portsmouth has a majority.
The Lib Dems will want to bolster their numbers and stop that from happening by adding to their 14 seats on the authority.
But it could also be a big night for Labour - who currently have two seats - and Ukip - with four.
Reports nationally say Labour are set to lose hundreds of seats across the board.
The Greens, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will also look to take their first seats.
Meanwhile, Portsmouth’s Nelson ward has been billed as the only ‘four-way race’ in the city election; following the decision by ex-councillor Ken Ferrett to not stand again. He also quit the Labour Party because of his political differences with national leader Jeremy Corbyn. Labour locally has also seen the departure of Aiden Gray, who quit after revealing on Twitter that the party ‘no longer speaks for him.’