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Is this the only place in the country hosting three election counts?

PUBLISHED: 17:21 11 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:21 11 December 2019

Trevor Holden, Acting Returning Officer. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Trevor Holden, Acting Returning Officer. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

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From filling with stalls during agricultural shows to hosting glittering business awards, the Norfolk Showground Arena is frequently packed to the rafters.

Behind the scenes at the Norfolk Showground for the Election count prep. Picture: Victoria PertusaBehind the scenes at the Norfolk Showground for the Election count prep. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

But tonight the function room will take centre stage as the only place in the county to play host to three election counts.

The constituencies of Norwich North, Broadland and South Norfolk are set to join forces as 230 vote counters tally up voters ballot papers from across their districts.

Trevor Holden, joint managing director of Broadland and South Norfolk, said plans had been in place to hold a joint count for the police and crime commissioner elections in May 2020.

"When we had the snap general election and we said 'the plans are in place, let's do it now'," he said.

Behind the scenes at the Norfolk Showground for the Election count prep. Picture: Victoria PertusaBehind the scenes at the Norfolk Showground for the Election count prep. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Mr Holden, who joined the two councils in January, added: "This is a massive logistical exercise and the team have been in the planning stages for a good while.

"I don't know of anywhere else that's got three counts."

Mr Holden, who was formerly chief executive of Breckland Council and Luton Borough Council, added: "This is the calm before the storm.

"We're lucky in Norfolk to have such a fantastic function centre.

Trevor Holden, Acting Returning Officer. Picture: Victoria PertusaTrevor Holden, Acting Returning Officer. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

"The challenge has been getting everything in, all the tables and chairs and the big screen and the provisions - teas and coffees and rations - as we've got a long night.

"It's a bit like coming into a Formula One pit stop.

"I just hope no one takes the wheels off the car.

"The flow gets the ballot boxes in as quickly as possible, [but] the likes of Sunderland are always going to finish first. The important thing is to get it right - it isn't a race.

Behind the scenes at the Norfolk Showground for the Election count prep. Picture: Victoria PertusaBehind the scenes at the Norfolk Showground for the Election count prep. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

"This is the first step in the democratic process."

He said he felt the move towards authorities joining up for election counts was "the right thing to do" and added: "It's an opportunity to deliver better staff management [and] have higher levels of expertise.

"We've put a lot of work in to make sure this goes well.

"There are 900 people working across 200 polling stations for this count."

And he added: "As a returning officer, I can't comment on anything political, but what this election has done is galvanise people to make sure they're on the register - it's really important.

"If it's chucking it down you've got to be a little bit more determined to get out and vote."


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