Stand up and be counted

It’s been a week since I last posted. I promised myself and my family a break after the election which has been very refreshing. I’ve also celebrated my son’s first birthday. 

I want to share with you my experience of the count. Under good advice my husband and myself decided not to go to the count too early. Ballot boxes arrive at the count venue (on this occasion Derby Arena) from 10 p.m. onwards. We decided to go to bed around 9p.m. and get a couple of hours sleep aiming to get there for about midnight. It turned out we hadn’t missed much. 

The first thing that happens is the boxes are opened and the number of papers inside verified against the number of people attending the polling station. As this happens, the counters open out the papers and sort them into local election and PCC election papers. People attending the count can watch this happen. The various different parties have members stand over the counters and tally up the different votes as the verification takes place, they can then make a prediction based on the number of papers in the box using calculations of ratio and proportion. I didn’t bother with this activity but the sample I did see opened only contained a handful of votes for me so at this stage I wasn’t feeling confident.

We milled around a bit and I spoke to, and was introduced to, members from all different parties – there was a general feel of hope that labour wouldn’t hold the majority in council by the end of the night. 

It turned out Oakwood was one of the final wards to be counted. As we waited, we witnessed multiple recounts for Derwent Ward over a difference of two votes and similarly with Boulton over a difference of 10. The hustle and bustle of parties rounding up their members to go and scrutinise was quite exciting. 

When we finally returned to the Oakwood count area the green election papers had already been sorted into piles for the different candidates, the sight of my pile overwhelmed me – it was a significant size not dissimilar to UKIP’s or Labour’s. At this point it was obvious I hadn’t won as the Conservative piles were significantly larger – it took about 10 people to count theirs whereas we stood and watch as two girls sorted my pile into groups of 10 and then 100. A few more were brought over that had been sorted into a different pile. The final count came to 316! Far more than the 50-100 I was told was the expected haul for a first time out independent candidate (especially when I hadn’t been out canvassing!).

I was thrilled – many of you will know the overexcited chatter that ensued!

The final result was:

Conservative 1820

Labour 549

UKIP 342

Independent 316

Lib Dem 93

There were some very obviously disappointed folk, who are passionate about making a difference to Derby and their local wards. The biggest disappointment was that Labour held onto control of the council by 1 councillor. Not that I have anything against Labour generally, but Derby is in a real fix and they don’t seem to be able to see it. 

We got home at 4.30 a.m. 

The question now is what next? There are no elections in 2017, so my next opportunity to stand is in 2 years time. I’m told that the conservative councillor will be standing down at this time which may improve my position. People have suggested that I do some research into who voted for me and try and enlist them to my campaign team; others have said I should start canvassing now. I would be very happy to receive comments about my campaign both positive or constructively critical, either as a comment on here or as a direct email to alexdann33@gmail.com. I don’t intend to make a decision about standing until nearer the time.

I am considering how to become more active in the community and will be attending council meetings as a member of the public, I may even start submitting questions so please contact me if you have any suggestions for those too. 

Thank you once again for your ongoing support through my campaign.

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