The leader of Uttlesford District Council has commissioned an independent review into the delayed dispatch of postal votes in the general election.

Issues arose after 2,688 postal votes for residents in the Chelmsford part of the North West Essex constituency were not dispatched as planned on Wednesday, June 19, and instead only went out on Friday, June 28.

Thanks to the cooperation of residents returning their votes quickly, with help from both Royal Mail and council staff hand-delivering and offering to immediately return votes, some 2,076 of these 2,688 were successfully returned in time to be counted along with all other votes cast.

Uttlesford District Council leader Cllr Petrina LeesUttlesford District Council leader Cllr Petrina Lees (Image: Uttlesford District Council)

This represents a 77 per cent return rate - which is typical of three-quarters of postal votes that are usually returned in parliamentary elections.

The 2,610 majority of the winning candidate, Conservative Kemi Badenoch, over Labour's Issy Waite, could not have been overturned by the delay - however 612 of the postal votes were still not returned in time.

Council leader Cllr Petrina Lees has now commissioned leading independent electoral expert Peter Stanyon to review the issues.

On commissioning the review, Cllr Lees said: "The running of elections is understandably in the hands of the Returning Officer, rather than politicians, but nonetheless it is important that we take an oversight role to ensure that the issue in the last couple of weeks is understood, with learning from it applied in future.

Uttlesford District CouncilUttlesford District Council (Image: Uttlesford District Council)

"I have therefore consulted the Association of Electoral Administrators, and commissioned Peter Stanyon to carry out a prompt, thorough, independent review.

"Transparency is important, so I undertake to publish his report in full.


"In the meantime, I am grateful to all concerned for the hard work that went into so successfully sending out and receiving back these postal votes, so that the verdict of the people of North West Essex in choosing their MP for the next five years is not in question."

The council's chief executive Peter Holt blamed "human error" for the delay in the postal votes being sent out, saying that he was "mortified" and takes "full responsibility".

Ms Badenoch received 19,360 votes, while Miss Waite received 16,750.