THE presiding officer at the polling station at Batchley Community Centre was replaced within two hours of voting starting after it was discovered he had sent a good luck message to Conservative candidate Rachel Maclean.
Presiding officers have to go through strict training to ensure they remain neutral throughout polling day.
However the day before the General Election Clive Payne sent a message to Mrs Maclean’s Facebook page saying: ‘Good luck tomorrow. If your diary permits, pop into Batchley Community Centre where I am Presiding over one of the polling stations. The Christmas tunes will be on and there will be a warm welcome and a healthy supply of tea, coffee and Christmas biscuits not only for you but for the other party candidates too.”
Within 20 minutes of a complaint being made to the borough council Mr Payne, who lives in Redditch and works as a presenter with Black Country Radio, was replaced.
Sue Hanley, the Acting Returning Officer for Redditch, said: “All of our Election Staff are required to be politically neutral and this is something which is fully covered in training and briefings prior to elections.
“It was brought to my attention that an employee had posted a message via social media. In order to preserve the integrity of the election, a Presiding Officer was immediately required to stand down from their position.”