A PETITION to recount votes cast for Highworth town councillors in the local election has been signed and sent to the High Court after voters rallied to cover its submission costs.

Residents were shocked when a counting error on election night allocated more votes to each of the 10 Conservative Party councillors elected than the number of overall ballots cast.

A hurriedly-organised fundraising campaign received more than £4,000 in donations to cover the costs involved in petitioning the High Court to fix this mistake after Swindon Borough Council’s returning officer admitted that there had been an error.

Keith Smith oversaw the non-partisan campaign with the help of Jamie Cope and Nick Gardiner.

He said: “The deadline was Friday so to have it sent off in time is a huge relief. It was quite elating to know that all our hard work and the support of the people in Highworth has paid off.

“Now the ball is with the High Court and we are waiting with bated breath to see what happens next. Hopefully we will find out soon, this fiasco is causing a lot of angst and the sooner we can have it sorted, the happier residents will be and the more comfortable and reassured the councillors will feel.

“I’d like to thank the residents for putting their trust in us and donating so much money, it’s amazing. Justice is finally coming to Highworth.”

The amount raised by generous townsfolk well-exceeded the amount needed to pay for the petition’s issue fee (£528), security for costs (£255) and solicitor’s expenses (£1,500) but the extra cash will come in handy if anyone from Highworth needs to travel to the High Court for the case, though this probably will not be necessary.

There may be a trial to decide if a recount is needed or a judge may make the decision in their chambers. If the petition is successful, it is likely that Swindon Borough Council will have to cover its costs and everyone who put money towards it can then receive a refund.

Mr Smith is an independent town councillor and chair of the Highworth Community Partnership Group, which runs the town’s community centre and set aside a separate bank account for all the donations towards the ‘Democracy for Highworth’ campaign.

Mr Smith signed a court application to be included with petition which gives brief details of the case and asks that the matter be decided by a judge. A copy of the petition will be served on the returning officer, all 18 other candidates and the director of public prosecutions.