Following the publication today of a damning report by the Electoral Commission, the UK’s elections watchdog, Hackney Council has confirmed that acting returning officer and Chief Executive Tim Shields will be waiving the fee he was due to receive in payment for organising the polls.
Mr Shields follows John Mothersole, the returning officer for Sheffield Hallam parliamentary constituency who announced earlier this month that he would not be taking his expected fee of £20,000 for organising the elections there. As in Hackney, Sheffield was dogged by chaos at polling stations with some voters unable to cast their ballots.
Tim Shields, acting returning officer, said, “I welcome the Electoral Commission’s report which highlights some of the changes that need to be made to the electoral system nationally.
“There were a number of problems in Hackney on polling day for which I have unreservedly apologised to our residents, and which is why I’ve made the decision to waive my acting returning officer’s fee. I will ask the Council to invest it into a facility for the community.
“In addition to this, I have commissioned a full independent report into what happened here, which will go into much more detail than the Electoral Commission’s report about our local circumstances and help us ensure nothing like this ever happens again in Hackney.”
Hackney was the last London borough to its announce parliamentary election results, and the Council’s organisation of the electoral process has been condemned by both re-elected MPs, Meg Hillier and Diane Abbott, who have described it as ‘an embarrassment’.
Previous story: Watchdog condemns Hackney election chaos