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Archive - Friday, 4 June 2004
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Ballot papers arrive on time
SOUTH Lakeland escaped the postal voting problems that have dogged parts of the North West region and other areas where the Government is trialling the new system in the run up to election day.
Claire Wheatman, electoral services officer at South Lakeland District Council, said: "On the whole, things here have gone according to plan; we have had good printers and few problems."
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the North West and other all-postal voting pilots, electoral officers reported that the last ballot papers dropped on doorsteps on Wednesday morning, June 2 just in time to avoid widespread disruption to the elections.
Last year, 59 smaller pilot schemes trying out all-postal voting increased turnouts in local elections to an average of 50 per cent by comparison, only one third of the electorate turned out to vote in areas where traditional polling stations were used.
According to a recent poll by ICM, up to 51 per cent of people in the North West are "likely to vote" in the European parliamentary elections compared with just 24 per cent of the electorate who turned out for vote for MEPs in 1999.
But Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has been criticised for ignoring the advice of the Electoral Commission and running far larger postal voting pilots this year across the North West, North East, Yorkshire and Humber and the East Midlands.
Tory local government spokesman Bernard Jenkin MP said: "We continue to monitor a grave situation. The scramble to meet the June 1 legal deadline has exposed the chaos of these postal pilots, which was entirely inflicted by John Prescott. He could have avoided all of this by accepting the advice of the Electoral Commission and every other political party."
Eighteen of the 52 seats on SLDC could change hands on June 10. But SLDC has been a hung council ever since it was created in the local government shake up of 1974, with no party ever having a majority big enough to confer overall control.
The current make up of the council is 18 Conservatives, 22 Liberal Democrats, eight Labour and two independent. Two seats are currently vacant.
Twelve of the 32 seats on Barrow Borough Council are up for re-election on June 10 while the Ingleton and Clapham ward on Craven District Council is being contested.
l Votes cast in South Lakeland's local elections will be counted on June 10 from 10pm at Kendal Leisure Centre after SLDC's ballot paper collection point closes results are expected later that night in all 18 SLDC seats up for election.
Counting votes in the European Parliamentary elections will begin at 7.30pm on June 13. The results cannot be announced until polling has closed across all 25 EU member states.