BREAKING NEWS 3AM: Hayes back with huge majority

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Conservative John Hayes has been returned for a sixth stint as MP for South Holland and the Deepings.

Mr Hayes polled a massive 35,179 votes, beating Labour’s Voyteck Kowalewski who increased Labour’s votes in the area, getting 10, 282.

Next was UKIP candidate Nicola Smith with 2,185 votes, followed by Liberal Democrat Julia Cambridge, who polled 1,433 votes.

Dan Wilshire of the Green Party received 894 votes and Independent candidate Rick Stringer 342.

Mr Stringer and Mrs Smith were not present.

• More soon

EARLIER: The counting team here must have been drinking plenty of Red Bull! We were anticipating a 4.30am count result but are now being told the result could come through as early as 2.30am.

EARLIER: Out of the candidates, Conservative John Hayes, Liberal Democrat Julia Cambridge, Green Dan Wilshire and Labour’s Voyteck Kowalewski are all milling about with their supporters at the South Holland and the Deepings count here at Springfields Exhibition Centre in Spalding. But there is no sign of Independent candidate Rick Stringer or UKIP’s ‘paper’ candidate Nicola Smith.

EARLIER: The election count has now finished here at the Springfields Exhibition Centre and 50,399 people cast their vote.

The figure represents 66 per cent of the electorate, up 2.1 per cent on 2015 and the highest turn out in these parts since 1997.

Voting cards were verified much quicker than expected and the thinking is the vote could be announced earlier than the expected time of 4.30am.

ELECTION 2017: South Holland and Deepings result expected around 4.30am

South Holland and the Deepings voters have just four hours left to cast their vote in the 2017 General Election. Six candidates are going for the seat, including Conservative John Hayes, who has held it since 1997.

The other candidates are Voyteck Kowalewski (Labour), Julia Cambridge (Liberal Democrat), Rick Stringer (Independent), Nicola Jane Smith (UKIP) and Daniel Wilshire (Green).

We will be attending the count at Springfields and updating this story throughout the early hours, from around 2.30am.

Polling stations across the area opened at 7am this morning (Thursday) and close at 10pm. Votes will then be transported to Springfields Exhibition Centre in Spalding, where verification (counting the total amount of ballot papers against submitted paperwork) will then take place.

It is expected the count will begin around 2am tomorrow (Friday) and the result will be announced at about 4.30am by acting returning officer Anna Graves, the chief executive of South Holland District Council.

At the last election, held on May 7, 2015, the turnout was 49,207.

John Hayes (Conservative) took 59.6 per cent of the vote (29,303) as he strolled home with a majority of 18,567 (37 per cent). His share of the votes was up 0.5 per cent from 2010. Second was David Parsons (UKIP) with 21.8 per cent (10,736 votes)– an increase for his party of 15.4 per cent from 2010.

Next came Matthew Mahabadi (Labour) with a 12.4 per cent share of the votes (6,122) – down 1.6 per cent for his party from 2010. It was Dan Wilshire (Green) next with 3.2 per cent (1,580) of the vote, which was an increase on 2010 of 1.8 per cent for his party.

Finally, George Smid (Lib Dem) took three per cent of the vote (1,466), down 12.5 per cent for his party.

• In South Kesteven, doing battle are Nick Boles (Conservative), Anita Day (Liberal Democrats), Barrie Fairbarn (Labour Party), Marietta King (UKIP), Tariq Mahmood (Independent) and Becca Thackray (Green).

• In Boston and Skegness UKIP leader Paul Nuttall is up against Mike Gilbert (Blue Revolution), Matt Warman (Conservatives), Victoria Percival (Green), Paul Kenny (Labour) and Philip Smith (Liberal Democrats).