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Reporting on the election... but in 2021!
14 May 2021
by Rhea Alton

Our Operations Director Rhea has reported on election results for years now and has always loved the atmosphere as the votes come in, but nothing is the same with Covid-19. This year, Rhea's reporting experience was completely different to what she's used to. Read all about it...

Everything in COVID times is a little strange, a little different.

And the weekend’s local elections were no different. Shrewsbury Sports Village was so much quieter than the usual hustle and bustle as votes were counted and the candidates wandered around, meeting and greeting and chatting.

I have reported the results from general elections, council elections and PCC elections on behalf of the Shropshire Star, and then the Press Association and ITV for a number of years - and one of the main reasons I continue to be a stringer is seeing old friends and colleagues from the media and the council, meeting new reporters and the comradery of it all.

Hours and hours of snacks and drinks and chatting as we pulled together interviews and stories and results. The general election is an all-nighter I have done it so many times - in the past I covered the Brecon count and drove two hours back home at 5am! 

Getting home and not being able to go straight to sleep because the adrenalin is still pumping, and bursting to wake up everyone in the house and report back the results!

And I knew in 2021 the count would be different but I don’t think you realise until you experience it, that the difference in surroundings you know so well makes a big impact.

There are certain things you take as a given...

As the results came in there were small cheers but nothing like the whooping often heard. Those elected made no speeches and there were no handshakes - there were a few appropriate elbow touches... which isn’t quite the same.

The media room only had a few of us in, and we were all two metres apart and wearing masks. Everyone was as friendly and as chirpy and helpful as usual - but there was just something different.

The pipes in the sports village make a noise. I never noticed that before. It has never been quiet enough for me to hear them.

We could see no-one else unless a result was being announced because there was no loitering, no cafe serving up hot drinks and snacks, no arrivals.

Everyone had a thermos or a bottle of water. Dozens of masks. I don’t know what the count hall, where the action was happening, looked like, as we didn’t leave our area. 

It was brilliantly organised, COVID-safe and smooth running. But personally, I hope it is a little noisier and a bit more chaotic next time...

**The 2021 Shropshire Council election result saw the Conservatives retain their majority but lose five seats.