EALING Council has defended the time it took to declare borough election results last Friday. The count was not completed until nearly five hours after the estimated finish time.

Neighbouring boroughs Hillingdon and Harrow had both declared their full results by 5pm, while people in Ealing were waiting until nearly 10pm.

Council officials had originally predicted the announcement would come by 5.30pm, but the first results were not released until more than an hour later.

A spokeswoman said: “Ealing’s residents cast approximately 380,000 votes in last week’s elections. The borough enjoyed one of the highest turnout figures in the UK and counted the second largest amount of ballot papers in London.

“We also had a very high number of split votes, whereby people chose to cast their local votes for different parties or independent candidates. These votes took longer to count and verify.”

Verification of the borough ballot papers followed that of the European election papers and the count did not start until the early afternoon.

Other London boroughs chose to count through the night, immediately after the polls closed at 10pm on Thursday.

Jon Warner, one of many residents waiting patiently online for results, tweeted: “This is taking ages.”

The spokeswoman added: “The returning officer’s principal and overriding criterion is producing a result that is accurate and fair, which we achieved in Ealing.”