10,000 polling cards reprinted in massive Hatfield and Welwyn council elections blunder
PUBLISHED: 17:29 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:30 29 March 2019
Welwyn Hatfield Council is spending thousands of pounds correcting its mistakes after it advertised the wrong wards for two upcoming elections.
Both the Hatfield Town Council elections and Welwyn’s Parish Council elections are due to happen in May, and are organised by the borough council.
It emerged yesterday that the public have been sent polling cards printed on the basis of old electoral boundaries.
Meanwhile, some political parties say they have been basing their strategy on the bogus information.
In February 2016, there was a review of the ward boundaries, which come into effect on May 2 when this year’s elections take place.
However, the council’s elections team appear to have had some crossed wires, and deliveries of 10,000 polling cards with the old wards on them began on Tuesday.
The council has published a table of corrections for the public to use – see our table here.
New, corrected cards are being reprinted and delivered at a total extra cost of £3,200.
Labour councillor and Hatfield Town Council leader Lenny Brandon said that the Labour Party branch had vetted and appointed candidates, and have been canvassing, all based on the incorrect ward boundaries.
“Being informed at the eleventh hour has certainly not helped the cause, with elections a few weeks away, it is a time-consuming distraction we could have done without.
“Luckily the oversight was highlighted now, and not after the elections - now that would have been an interesting scenario. “This is another example of continual government cuts filtering down to local authority level, placing staff under increasing and unreasonable pressure to perform.
“Sometimes something has to give.”
The incorrect information has been online since December and was only corrected yesterday.
Conservative Party branch representatives declined to comment and the Liberal Democrats have yet to reply.
A Welwyn Hatfield Council spokesperson said: “Some parish and town electoral ward boundaries have changed and, unfortunately, we delivered around 10,000 polling cards listing an incorrect town or parish ward.
“All residents are being sent the correct information.
“It is important to stress that this does not affect their ability to vote and all other details – including polling station, polling district and elector number – were correct.
“We would like to apologise to the residents and parties affected by this error.”
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council elections, also coming up in May, are unaffected.
Anyone with queries is encouraged to call the council’s election team on 01707 357300.
• For further information, see https://www.welhat.gov.uk/elections/poll-cards.