With almost 2,500 candidates battling to win seats on 2 May, Cornwall Council staff are gearing up to count the votes.

The electoral service department are printing thousands of ballot papers and staff being trained for the count at the two centres at Carn Brea leisure centre and the Royal Cornwall Showground in Wadebridge.

The unitary election will see 480 candidates (264 in West Cornwall and 216 in East Cornwall) contesting 123 seats in 122 electoral divisions (Bude is now a two member division).

All 123 unitary council seats are being contested, with the number of candidates ranging from two in 15 electoral divisions to seven in four others.

Twenty seven councillors have stepped down, with 78 per cent of current Cornwall councillors standing again, although some have changed areas.

There will be contests in 58 town and parish councils, (two fewer than the last election), with a total of 1,965 candidates (845 in West Cornwall and 1,120 in East Cornwall) standing for election. This means that there are 144 electoral divisions where there are no contests taking place, with 1,200 people (59% of all seats) elected unopposed.

Returning Officer Paul Masters said: "The level of turnout in local council elections is usually lower than in general elections and yet the people elected to unitary and town and parish councils will be making decisions that have a major impact on the lives of local communities.

“These are the bodies that are responsible for maintaining roads, beaches, green spaces, and car parks; providing social care services and running libraries and cemeteries.“ 

Poll cards have been sent to all households on the electoral register, and postal vote ballot papers are due to be sent out to everyone who has requested a postal vote during the next few days.

Electoral services staff will begin opening postal votes at the Council offices at Luxstowe House and Dolcoath from 23 April, with the process continuing until 10pm on 2 May when the polls close. So far the Council has received 68,652 postal vote applications.

Staff from Cornwall Council’s electoral service have identified 471 buildings which will be used as polling stations for the two elections. Most are village and church halls, schools and community centres – but there is also the odd caravan and portacabin and even the 19th century Caerhays castle, an English Heritage Grade 1 Listed Building in Gorran which was built by the famous architect John Nash for the Trevanion family in the early 1800’s.

The verification of votes for the unitary election will begin at the two count centres at 10am on Friday, May 2. 

Once the count has been completed and all the declarations have been made, the staff will begin the task of verifying and then counting the votes for the town and parish council elections. This process is likely to be completed between 9 pm and 10pm. The results of both elections will be published on the Council’s website as they are declared.