14 May 2012

Carry On Returning

what a carry on! no electricity

From: First Team 
Sent: 11 May 2012 16:40
To: AllStaff
Subject: Weekly message from the Chief Executive

You will no doubt have seen the media coverage of the Mayoral and GLA elections, including a very brief TV appearance by a very tired looking CE. Afraid so.

Much was made on Friday evening by the media of slow progress of the count. I know that, whilst Barnet and Camden constituency finished first at Alexandra Palace, all those involved reflected that the problems encountered by others could have so easily have affected us.

GLA counts are an enormous undertaking. In our constituency alone we had to count over 500,000 votes, spread across more than 250 ballot boxes using 22 heavy duty scanners working solidly for almost 8 hours. It’s a system with many moving parts and intricacies and a problem in one area quickly brings the whole process to a halt. Why don't we have completely electronic counts that record every vote as we go along and the result can then be announced at 10.01pm?

That we avoided this, barring the unexpected power test, was down to the work of the joint Barnet and Camden team and the excellent project planning led by John Bailey.

Elections involve very long working days and tired minds and fractiousness also tends to be a real problem. That we managed to keep good humour throughout Friday justified the extra effort we put in this year to joint working between the two authorities. You didn't look to be in good humour Nick, in fact you looked right mardy which was, I am sure, unrelated to the worry that Andrew Dismore as a professional operator might be more demanding of your office.

It’s also worth noting that the professional attitude and helpfulness of the party Agents (who often get a bad rap at this time) meant counting was far smoother than at the last GLA. Nick is talking about you I think Mrs Angry of Broken Barnet and you Helen Michael (Cafe Buzz, queen of the Finchley parking rebels) as you were assisting the green party on the day.

Of course there is much to learn, Presiding Officers work a 16 hour day in Polling Stations and we need to speed up how we receipt their ballot boxes or at the very least clarify how long it takes. We also still haven’t got access to polling stations quite right. 16 hour days are stupid. Have 2 officers who work an overlapping 9 hour day.

However, the feedback from those on the day was that we are steadily improving, so that’s down to all those who worked on the election, from the team running a polling station in the allotments hut at Brent Terrace, to Patrick Hunter who had the unenviable job of unloading all our ballot boxes in the middle of the night at Ally Pally and Fiona Ahern, Dave Rowe and John Bailey who managed the whole process.

We now need to plan for 2014. Not sure that you will still be in the Barnet picture by then Nick?

Finally a positive note for the weekend. The music service have been successful in their Arts Council bid to be a music education hub. The status brings with it £1million of funding over three years to help ensure that every child has the opportunity to experience a high quality music education. Great for now but as soon as there is no funding this service will be axed.


1 comment:

  1. Mmm. In fact he was in a very grumpy mood at the count, which is silly when you consider that he, unlike the rest of the people working on the count, gets a nice big fat bonus for being the Returning Officer. Perhaps he was upset for Brian, whose impending fall was apparent right from the start of a long and very enjoyable day. Somehow I find that hard to believe, however.


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