A CLERICAL ERROR on a council database means that the Ellesmere Port and Neston seat will not be declared until 10.30am Friday.
The seat which was expected to be declared around 3am was dramatically postponed after a discrepancy believed to be around 2,000 votes was discovered between the total number of votes counted and the actual amount.
It must be stressed that there was no problem with the counting this evening it is a database error which cannot be checked by council officers until approximately 9am. The figures will then be verified by party agents and the count will be officially re-convened at 10.30am when the result and the winner will be declared.
It is understood that Andrew Miller has retained his seat, albeit with a reduced majority believed to be around 2,500 but an unamused Mr Miller is expected to wait an extra seven hours before being declared Ellesmere Port and Neston MP for a fifth term. There were dramatic scenes in the civic hall when the anticipated announcement was delayed and all parliamentary candidates were called into a meeting with the returning officer. Nearly 30 minutes passed and it was announced that the declaration would have to be postponed. Whilst it is clear this clerical discrepancy does not in any way affect the outcome, agents could not agree on the results until the final figures had been checked on the computer database. All council staff including counters have been sent home and police will secure all of the ballot papers within Ellesmere Port Civic Hall.
Returning officer Simon Gocher said: "There is an issue with verifying the figure. We're not going to resolve that until later this morning. It needs more investigation."