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Covid restrictions mean that key Senedd seat might be the last to be counted, officials reveal

22 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
Counting votes at the 2016 Senedd election Picture by Llywelyn2000.

Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter

One of the Senedd election’s most closely watched electoral battles might be one of the last to be counted, a council officer has revealed.

The Liberal Democrats’ last electoral bastion in the Welsh parliament, Brecon and Radnorshire, will have to wait until a neighboring constituency and regional votes are counted before staff turn to the task.

The seat was won by the Conservatives at the 2019 General Election and is being defended by former Liberal Democrat AM William Powell at the Senedd.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing guidelines that are in place, how the results will be counted and announced will be very different to 2016 and proceeding elections.

In recent years votes from both Powys constituencies, Brecon and Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire have been counted by teams of Powys County Council workers at the Royal Welsh showground, at Llanelwedd near Builth Wells.

Due to the vast size of both rural constituencies boxes filled with votes need to travel down to the showground from as far afield as Llanfyllin and Machynlleth in Montgomeryshire, and up from Ystradgynlais and Crickhowell in Brecon and Radnorshire.

Counters have burned the midnight oil and results have been announced very late into the night and the early morning.

This time around, the votes will be counted on Friday, May 7, and instead of simultaneous counting, the teams in Powys will concentrate on one constituency before moving to the other one. This will probably see it be become an all-day affair.

According to a Powys County Council spokesman, the “likely” way the counting will be done is:

  1. On Friday morning counting will begin in the Food Hall at the Showground.
  2. Firstly there will be a verification of the Montgomeryshire count.
  3. This will be followed by a counting of the votes and then the votes for the Mid and West Wales Regional List.
  4. The result declaration is earmarked to take place at the bandstand but arrangements for this could still change.
  5. When this is completed and following a break for the workers, the whole process will start again for the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency.
  6. Due to the need to limit the number of people at the count it is likely that any media will be based at another building on the showground where streaming of pictures from the counting will take place.

The Liberal Democrats therefore will have a long night and day after the polling stations close to find out whether they have held on or their last remaining Welsh constituency – going back to the 19th century – has slipped from their fingers.

Candidates

Montgomeryshire

Alison Alexander – Welsh Liberal Democrats

Kait Duerden – Welsh Labour

Gwyn Evans – Gwlad – The Welsh Independence Party

Russell George – Welsh Conservative

Oliver Lewis – Reform UK

Elwyn Vaughan – Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales.

Brecon and Radnorshire

Emily Durrant – Green Party

James Evans – Welsh Conservative

Grenville Ham – Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales

Sam Holwill – Gwlad – The Welsh Independence Party

Gethin Jones – Welsh Labour

Karen Laurie-Parry – Independent

Claire Mills – Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party

John Muir – Reform UK

William Powell – Welsh Liberal Democrat.

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