Voting took place as usual throughout Wealden, as special measures were put in place at nearly 100 polling stations to ensure the safety for all those involved.

Average turnout for the 15 County Council seats contested last week in Wealden was 38.6%, while the parish council election for Chalvington with Ripe attracted a turnout of 63%. There were also four by-elections for vacant seats on Wealden District Council, Neighbourhood Planning referendums for Hailsham and Hellingly, and the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex.  The results are published on the Wealden website.

“It has been a tremendously busy time for Wealden’s Elections team, and everyone who worked on polling day, 6 May, or at the two counts on 7 and 10 May,” said Wealden’s Returning Officer Trevor Scott.  “When we asked staff and volunteers back in January to help with this election, it was still very uncertain as to what the situation with the pandemic would be.  But it did not deter people from helping to ensure that the democratic process could still take place.

Covid safety

“New measures were put in place, with one-way systems and extended spacing to ensure social distancing. We were able to offer voters extra reassurance by providing Covid Marshals to manage the safety and cleaning at every polling station. We had nearly 100 polling stations operating Wealden on 6 May, with some dealing with four different ballot papers. Two separate count teams were needed to reduce the risk of Covid exposure, and together with Covid Marshals, we needed the support of 589 staff and volunteers.

“I would like to thank each of them for making this election, at one of the most difficult of times, possible. I would also like to thank voters for their patience and understanding which enabled everyone on polling day to vote in safety. We can hopefully look ahead to needing less safety measures in future.”

More than 18,000 postal votes were received and processed, enabling those people to make their electoral choices from home.

Wealden’s Election Team is also very grateful to the village halls and many other venues who made themselves available for these elections. For some, it was the first booking since May 2020 and it involved them putting in place extra cleaning and measures to ensure social distancing.

The Police and Crime Commissioner election had been due to take place in 2020, but was postponed because of the pandemic. The next scheduled elections are not until 2023, when there will be District and Parish Council elections.