Bernstein to decline payout after voters shut out of polling station

Sir Howard Bernstein

Sir Howard Bernstein

Sir Howard Bernstein, the chief executive of Manchester City Council, is to refuse a £19,000 payout if a report shows significant failures over his running of voting in Manchester during the May elections.

An internal investigation has been launched by the council following anger from 300 voters who were locked out of polling stations in Withington, south Manchester, after 10pm on May 6.

It has emerged that Sir Howard is to receive a combined payment for acting as the returning officer who oversaw voting in that constituency
and four others.

But a spokesperson for Sir Howard says he is "considering whether to take his fees for overseeing the combined local and general elections, and will take a decision once our rigorous internal review is complete".

In a statement, Sir Howard repeated an apology he made shortly after the election to those unable to vote.

He said: "I will be carrying out a rigorous review of all election arrangements, including polling
stations, in consultation with councillors and other stakeholders, and publishing a report as soon as possible outlining detailed recommendations for the future."

He added: "I would note that the
difficulties we experienced were
replicated in urban areas across
England."

No date has been set for publication of the report, which is to be made public, but it could be within weeks.

    Last updated: 1:00pm, June 10 2010