BOTCHED election results for Highworth could be sorted out sooner than expected if a new plan to recount the ballots goes smoothly.

Annoyed voters rallied to raise enough money to fund a legal challenge after a counting error gave more votes than the amount of ballots cast to all 10 of the Conservative councillors elected to council seats.

The petition to the High Court that aimed to allow a recount was due to be heard at a trial in London later this year but a new, cheaper and quicker way of resolving the issue has just been discovered.

Highworth Community Partnership Group member Keith Smith has organised the petition efforts. He told councillors: “We are trying to speed things up by asking Swindon County Court to allow the borough council’s returning officer to open the sealed packets of the ballots and hold the count again.

“The returning officer’s solicitor has discovered that the officer can make an application to the county court to open and inspect these documents.

“This way, the recount can take place in Swindon and happen much sooner than it would if we kept going with this petition.

“So, we have applied to the High Court to make this a special case and if the court agrees, we won’t have to go to trial there, which would save a lot of money and time.”

If all goes to plan, Swindon Borough Council’s returning officer Suzie Kemp and her deputy would hold the second count with members of the Highworth Town Council present.

The returning officer has already accepted that there was a mistake during the original counting on the night of the election earlier this year and the borough council is not fighting the court case.

It is hoped that the case will be successful and the borough will cover most if not all of its costs once it’s all done and dusted.

Mr Smith indicated that legal fees had recently risen but added: “I am determined that we are not a penny out of pocket and the people of Highworth get all of their money back.

“The High Court action would not take place before July 29 and I’m assuming that the votes should be counted before then - but nothing can change on the Highworth council until the High Court makes its judgment.”

Highworth town councillors Maureen Penny and Lynn Vardy asked why this seemingly more-efficient option to resolve the vote count mistake wasn’t mentioned earlier in the process..