BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 22:55 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 23:55 UK

Election 2010: Sunderland wins race to declare result

Labour retain seat in first result

Houghton and Sunderland South has won the race to become the first constituency to declare a result.

The constituency declared at 2252 BST. Labour's Bridget Phillipson won the seat with 19,137 votes.

It is the fifth general election in a row Sunderland City Council has been the first to declare a constituency.

Votes were also cast in Washington and Sunderland West, which was second to declare at 2325 BST, and in Sunderland Central which was third at 2341 BST.

The Houghton and Sunderland South result saw the Conservatives on 8,147 votes, Lib Dems 5,292, BNP 1,961 and UKIP 1,022. It represents a notional 8.44% swing Labour to Conservatives.

In Washington and Sunderland West Labour won, with Sharon Hodgson taking 19,615 votes.

The Conservatives got 8,157 votes, the Liberal Democrats 6,382, BNP 1,913 and UKIP 1,267.

In Sunderland Central Labour won, with Julie Elliott taking 19,495 votes.

The Conservatives took 12,770 votes, the Lib Dems 7,191, BNP 1,913 and UKIP 1,094.

Ballot papers from the three Sunderland constituencies were counted at Sunderland Tennis Centre on Thursday.

Efficiency over speed

In the 2005 election the council made history by declaring the first three results on the night - Sunderland South at 2245 BST, Sunderland North at 2325 BST and Houghton and Washington East at 2332 BST.

Sunderland's election officer, Bill Crawford, earlier said the aim was to continue that record and nothing was being left to chance.

To make sure the ballot boxes got quickly into Sunderland Tennis Centre a group of local school children were employed to swiftly pass them down a line.

The council's election team had learnt from past counts too. One year they found they had finished a little slower than anticipated, so changed the weight of their voting papers from 100 grams to 80 grams, making them easier to handle.

And voters were under strict instructions to fold their papers only once, from north to south.

Mr Crawford said plans had also been made for the unexpected: they had spare counters in the wings should it be a particularly high turn out, an emergency generator available in case there was a power cut, and a spare room has been set aside should there be any problems in the main counting room.

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