Howzat! FOI reveals cost of holding election count at cricket ground

For many reporters, local election nights mean hours spent in sports halls, town halls or community centres.

But one South London council went for a slightly grander venue — the Oval cricket ground.

Their decision prompted the Local Democracy Reporter Service, funded by the BBC and in parts of South London employed by regional publisher Reach, to find out how much councils spent on finding election venues.

Robert Firth, the local democracy reporter covering the area, revealed that booking the Oval cost Lambeth council £27,000, covering hiring rooms, parking and furniture.

It does have its own town hall, in Brixton, which is has spent millions renovating.

Neighbouring Southwark used its own headquarters, while Lewisham hosted its count at local secondary school.

Lambeth Council said: “The local election count is a vital exercise in democracy and we have a responsibility to complete it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Given the hundreds of count staff, party officials and media representatives involved, the count requires an extremely large venue which must be exclusively available to us until the last result is declared.

“In line with other authorities, Lambeth has considered all the best venues available within the borough and the Kia Oval proved to be a suitable venue — as it had for the 2018 local election count.”

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