SENIOR councillors in Bradford have reacted angrily to news that cameras and other electronic devices will be banned from this year's election counts across West Yorkshire.

For the first time, people such as candidates, officials and the media will be barred from using digital cameras, mobile phones and tablets in rooms where the election counts are taking place.

The decision has been described by the council's Labour leader David Green as "a sledgehammer to crack a nut", while Conservative leader Simon Cooke called it "pretty ridiculous" and Liberal Democrat leader Jeanette Sunderland branded it "crackpot and unworkable".


This year, staff at the local election counts will also be counting up votes for a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Yorkshire, meaning the rules at counts across the five districts of Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees and Calderdale must be the same.

The decision to ban the use of cameras has been taken by Wakefield Council chief executive and returning officer Joanne Roney, who is overseeing the PCC election.


Ms Roney said national requirements meant she had a duty to preserve the confidentiality of the count.

She said: "I fully understand that nowadays people are interested in what goes on at the count and those who attend would like to share their experiences on social media.

"However, I have a duty to uphold the national legislation, which is in place to ensure the confidentiality of the count process.

"This is why I am not allowing the use of electronic devices on the count floor.

"I do not want those responsible for counting to be distracted or intimidated by photography or filming. We all have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the count.

"Electronic devices may be used in other areas at count venues, but at the discretion of local returning officers."

At Bradford's two counts, media photographers will be barred from the count room at The Leisure Centre, Keighley, and restricted to a balcony at the Richard Dunn sports centre, Odsal.

Cllr Green suggested the change might have been driven from central government.

He said: "I'm not aware of there ever being any problem in Bradford with the misuse of electronic devices.

"I have some sympathy but clearly election law is not set locally. It is not a local decision, it's one from central government. It is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut."

But an Electoral Commission spokesman said returning officers can exercise their discretion on the use of electronic devices at counts, which mean practices vary between local authorities.

Cllr Cooke said: "I don't know how they will police it. They have time to think about it. They need to come up with a sensible approach. I want a re-think on this."

Cllr Sunderland said: "It's crackpot and unworkable.

"I have made my opinions known on this. There is an awful lot of things that should be dealt with, and this is not one of them."