The decision to re-run a vote to elect the deputy leader of St Helens Labour group was down to a “miscalculation”, leaked emails have claimed.
Labour North West have ruled the outcome of Monday’s ballot void and ordered a re-run of the vote, which is expected to take place next week.
An email sent to Labour councillors from Andy Smith, deputy regional director, said a re-count took place on Tuesday night after members expressed concerns over the outcome of the vote.
“After re-counting the ballot papers it was clear that there was a discrepancy which would have altered the outcome on the night,” Mr Smith said in the email.
“Clearly a miscalculation took place on Monday night, it should not have happened and I take full responsibility for this.
“I can only apologise to the group and the candidates, it was a genuine error.”
The error was backed up in another leaked email from one of the tellers on the night, Anne McCormack, who claimed the re-run was down to a “cock-up”.
Mr Smith said the ballot will be re-run with the original candidates on Monday, February 25.
Councillors Sue Murphy, David Baines, Marlene Quinn and former council leader Barrie Grunewald were among the candidates in the ballot.
The situation has caused further unrest within the Labour group, with a number of leaks in recent weeks heightening the current tensions.
The group’s deputy regional director addressed the issue of the recent leaks at Monday’s meeting and in the email sent to members this morning, saying they can “only damage the Labour group”.
In another leaked email, one Labour councillor said they were “absolutely appalled” at the decision to re-run the vote.
The councillor said the situation was “shocking” and “beyond a joke”.
They added: “If we can’t even run an election how are we expected to run a town?”
The situation has also been condemned by St Helens Conservative group leader, Allan Jones.
Coun Jones said: “It is clear that this Labour council is in a complete shambles.
“The people of St Helens deserve better.”
Whoever is elected as deputy group leader will not automatically become deputy council leader of the council.
That is a cabinet appointment made by the leader of St Helens Council as part of a separate process.
Labour North West said it was Labour Party policy not to comment on internal party matters.