Amongst other things, our CEO “misplaced” 6,000 voters by using inadequate means of registering them and had to explain himself (not terribly well in Owl’s opinion) to a Parliamentary committee:
“A chief executive who was suspended over failures in the running of the 2017 general election process has left by mutual consent.
John Sellgren was suspended from his post at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council in November 2017 after a review by Andrew Scallon, of the Association of Electoral Administrators, which found that more than 500 postal voters were disenfranchised, and close to 1,000 potential electors not included on the register.
A statement from the council on Sellgren’s departure said: “We would like to place on record our thanks for John’s efforts during his seven years with us. The council recently had its first all-out elections and the new administration has an ambitious manifesto and many significant projects to deliver in the years ahead.
“With this in mind the authority will now consider what management leadership arrangements to put in place to support this programme.”
Sellgren said: “I have enjoyed my time at Newcastle and send my best wishes to the dedicated team of staff and partners with whom it has been a pleasure to have worked.”
The council said it wanted to point out that there had been no additional payments made to Mr Sellgren.
Labour’s Paul Farrelly held the Newcastle-under-Lyme seat by 30 votes with 21,124 to his Conservative rival’s 21,094.
The Scallon report was commissioned shortly after the election when claims were made that some students at Keele University and postal voters were unable to vote despite following the correct procedures.
Some said they were turned away from polling stations despite having polling cards with them, and others who said they had registered to vote by the deadline were turned away for not having provided extra information required.
Scallon’s report said: “Human error and judgement and a lack of knowledge were responsible for the things that went wrong and led to the disenfranchisement of a significant number of people, raising questions about the mandate of the candidate declared elected as Newcastle-under-Lyme’s member of Parliament.”
He noted inadequate performance by Mr Sellgren (as acting returning officer/electoral registration officer) and consultants, worsened by a lack of experience among elections office staff and over-reliance on a software system, which was not properly managed.”