OFFICIALS had no idea until after elections in southern Oxfordshire that thousands of people didn’t get their voting papers, the returning officer has said.

More than 2,250 polling cards were not printed and 2,035 postal votes were not delivered for May’s council elections in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse district, an independent report revealed.

The report revealed there was an initial problem about getting a company to print forms was flagged up by the printing firm Paragon in mid-April. However just a few days before the May 5 poll both councils said all forms should arrive to voters in time.

But now David Buckle – the chief executive of both councils who also acted as returning officer – has told Vale councillors that even on polling day officials were unaware there was still a problem.

Mr Buckle has also lifted a block on council communications with Paragon being released to the Oxford Mail, with a promise of documents being handed over next week.

At a council meeting on Wednesday night, Mr Buckle gave more details about the run-up to the election.

He said: “Paragon did not tell us it had failed to deliver the postal votes and polling cards to Royal Mail.

“Our assumption at that point was that the problem was with Royal Mail, and that was the line of enquiries.

“But it became apparent that there were discrepancies between what Royal Mail should have received and the number it had received.”

Mr Buckle said he tackled Paragon about 10 days after the election.

He added: “The commercial manager said yes, we have made a mistake, we have messed up and we are very sorry.”

He said he felt “very disappointed and angry”, adding: “You are in a working relationship with a company, and you would expect that if that company had some difficulties they would share that with you.

“Maybe I was a little naive and I’ve learned lessons for the future.”

Mr Buckle said he had won “substantial” compensation from the company. He did not give specific figures.

But Mr Buckle said the buck stopped at him and said more checks would be done in the future to make sure Royal Mail received the expected number of cards.

Mr Buckle said information requested by the Oxford Mail under the Freedom of Information Act would now be released.

Mr Buckle said he had not yet been paid for his work as returning officer and said a decision on how much he would receive from both councils would be made by the end of the year.