Giant marquee in Halifax car park to play host to Calderdale Council election count

When Calderdale's votes are being counted in this year’s local elections, they will be tallied in a giant marquee.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 10:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 10:30 am

For many years Calderdale Council has held its election counts at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax.

But with the centre being demolished to make way for a multi-million pound new leisure centre and swimming pool on the same site, using the venue this year was not an option.

Instead, the council will be holding the election count in a giant marquee which allows for enough space for the verification and counting tables, and a stage to make the announcement as ward results come in.

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Chief Executive and Returning officer Robin Tuddenham.

Historically, some counts were often held in each or neighbouring constituency, for example Todmorden Town Hall, and even The Shay Stadium at Halifax, which was used for a European Election count some years ago.

Last autumn, Todmorden ward councillor Coun Susan Press (Lab), who is stepping down at this election, wondered if the old method of using venues in council constituencies could be revived and said The Shay had proved unsatisfactory.

In the event, the marquee solution – it will be put in place on council land at Mulcture Hall Road, Halifax, close to the town centre – best meets the needs, says Chief Executive and Returning officer Robin Tuddenham.

“Due to the works at North Bridge Leisure Centre, this year’s elections verification and count will be held in a temporary structure on council-owned land on Mulcture Hall Road.

“A number of alternative sites were considered, but this option ensures there is the space required to hold an event of this type.

“It meets all requirements for a count venue, with counting areas for each ward and a stage for announcements,” he said.

Last year, due to COVID, some wards were counted in the morning before a lengthy break and another tranche in the afternoon, and verification of voting papers took place the day before the count which was held on a Saturday, rather than the usual Friday.

This year verification and counting will be held more usually, on Friday, May 6, the day after the public goes to the polls, and the day will continue in a more usual fashion, meaning once they start results are likely to come in thick and fast.

“On the day, the proceedings with start with the verification of all wards at 9.30am.

“It is anticipated that counting will start at around 11am.

“The first ward declaration is expected at around 11.30am and the last at about 1.30pm,” said Mr Tuddenham.

Labour goes into the poll on Thursday, May 5, with a five seat majority over all other parties.

Each of the 17 wards are being contested, with two seats in the mix in Ovenden ward.

With 26 seats needed for an overall majority, Labour will need to hold nine of the 11 seats it is defending, or make compensatory gains elsewhere, to retain overall control.

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