COUNTING was getting under way today in Leeds, Wakefield and Kirklees following the local elections in England and the referendum over the way the MPs are elected to Westminster.
An army of workers was totting up the ballot papers following the biggest test of public opinion since last year’s General Election.
Nearly 280 local authorities in England held elections yesterday, along with the referendum.
In Leeds, where 33 of the council’s 99 seats were being contested, the municipal election count was taking place this morning.
According to council officials, the referendum count in the city was scheduled to start at about 4pm and expected to be finished by 7pm. The result will be announced the Town Hall and fed through to regional count in Wakefield.
Since 2004, when Labour lost power after over 20 years, no single party has held overall control in Leeds. Going into last year’s local elections, the council was in the hands of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition but Labour made four gains and, with help from the two Green councillors, has held the reins of power for the past 12 months.
At the start of today’s count the political make-up of the council was Labour 48, Conservative 22, Liberal Democrats 21, Morley Borough Independents 6 and Greens 2.
Last year’s local elections were overshadowed by the General Election and this year they have had to fight for attention alongside the referendum which will decide whether the current “first past the post” system should be ditched in favour of the alternative vote (AV) method, under which people are able to rank candidates in order of preference and the winner is the first to get 50 per cent of votes.