Count goes on in Lancaster and Fleetwood

Lancaster and Fleetwood candidates Matthew Atkins (UKIP) and Robin Long (Lib Dem).
Lancaster and Fleetwood candidates Matthew Atkins (UKIP) and Robin Long (Lib Dem).
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The battle for the Lancaster and Fleetwood seat was extremely tight as we went to press although insiders were predicting a Labour win.

The marginal seat was due to be declared between 8am and 10am on Friday with a close battle between Cat Smith (Labour) and Eric Ollerenshaw (Conservative) likely to go in Ms Smith’s favour.

Both the Green and UKIP candidates believed their Labour rival would nick it as votes were counted at Salt Ayre Sports Centre in Lancaster for both Lancaster and Fleetwood, and neighbouring Morecambe and Lunesdale.

Chris Coates of the Greens said from the count room: “From how it feels down here, Labour could win Lancaster and Fleetwood, but Morecambe is much closer.”

UKIP was also expected to pick up strong support, especially in Fleetwood.

Matthew Atkins, the UKIP candidate, said: “Fleetwood is usually where we have a bigger vote share.

“There is a lot more dissatisfaction with working people who work in the traditional industries and no longer have a voice, not just the fishing industry but North West industry generally.

“People in Fleetwood don’t think the two main parties are offering them anything.

“You never know, but I believe Eric Ollerenshaw will lose his seat.”

Mr Coates said early indications were that the Greens could “finish a creditable third” amongst Lancaster voters but support in Fleetwood would be harder to come by.

Polls closed at 10pm and then verification of votes began in the sports centre.

All ballot boxes were received for Lancaster and Fleetwood by 12.30am on Friday and the count began at 2.10am.

Mark Cullinan, acting returning officer, said turn out in Lancaster and Fleetwood was “looking high”.

Mr Coates said increased voter interest could have been due to a combination of the nice weather on Thursday and the prospect of a tightly-fought election both locally and nationally.

As the clock ticked past 3am on Friday, Cat Smith and Eric Ollerenshaw had not arrived at the sports centre.

Labour and Conservative officials said they were getting some rest after a hard day on the campaign trail.

The other candidates standing for the Fleetwood seat are Robin Long for the Liberal Democrats and Harold Elletson for the new Northern Party.

The Northern Party name had been left off the ballot papers in both Lancaster and Fleetwood, and Morecambe and Lunesdale.

Mr Cullinan said this was because the new party, which campaigns for devolution for the north of England, had not filled in the group’s name on the election application form before deadline.

In Morecambe, a closely-run contest was predicted with votes between David Morris (Conservative) and Amina Lone (Labour) too close to call.

Mr Cullinan was not ruling out the possibility of a recount.

Nationally, the Conservatives were predicted by exit polls to be the largest party in a hung Parliament, 10 seats short of an overall majority. They were predicted to pick up 316 seats, Labour 239, the Scottish National Party 58, the Liberal Democrats 10, with the Greens and UKIP due to win two each.

By 3.10am, 79 out of 650 seats had been declared, 29 for Labour, 19 Conservative, 18 Scottish National Party, one Liberal Democrat and 12 other.