UPDATE: All newsfeeds and bloggers I'm scanning are complaining about the wait -
Guardian has one
12.23pm: Apparently the parties are also finding it hard to assess the results because the bundles of votes aren't being stacked up in piles party by party in the way that they normally are at counts like this.
12.18pm: The Tories say that Norwich North is 162nd on the party's list of target seats. If the party were win here at the general election, David Cameron would be on course for a majority of around 100. The MP who is 161st on the Tory target list is Alistair Darling.
12.15pm: . . . a hack colleague has told me that the figures produced by the parties are less reliable than normal because Broadland council has limited the number of party agents allowed to observe the count. Apparently that's because they did not want too many BNP figures floating around
11.57am: We're expecting the result now between 12.15 and 12.30.
11.54am: The Lib Dems seem to accept that they are in third place. One source told me that their share of the vote as much the same as it was in 2005, 16%. But he was also telling me that the Tories were doing badly because they had got less than 40%. He thinks that they're up by about six points, ie to 39%.
11.48am: If that figure is true, and if the Tory vote really has just gone up marginally (say, to 36%, from 33% in 2005), then the Tories have taken the seat with a 14% swing. That would be respectable by any standards, even if the actual majority turns out to be relatively low.
11.45am: Labour has come second, on with 19.5% of the vote, according to the conversation I've just overheard. It was a Labour activist calling someone on his mobile.
10.24am: There's not much urgency here. The counters have stopped for a tea break!
10.19am: They've finished verifying the votes. We've just been told the precise turnout: 45.88%.
10.09am: The Green party seems reconciled to fourth place. This is what a party spokesman told me:
The level of campaigning activity from a very small resource base has been very good. On the ground we had something like £12,000 to spend, compared to the £100,000 that the Tories have apparently spent. We are very pleased with the level of interest we've generated. We've picked up new members and new supporters. We think there's a chance that we will beat our best byelection performance [in terms of share of the vote] when we got 7.4% in Haltemprice and Howden [the David Davis byelection, in 2008].
9.53am: Mike Smithson at PoliticalBetting reckons that a 45% turnout is good for the Tories.
The general theory of low turnouts is that the campaigns which benefit most are those that are best organised. They're the ones to have been more likely to have got their vote out and the party with the best GOTV (Get Out The Vote) operation there yesterday was the Tory one. So as well as being a certain winner on my turnout below 61% bet I'm pretty confident that my "Tories on more than 41%" bet is going to be profitable too.
9.44am: The word is that we'll get the result nearer 11.30 than 1.
Labour Admits Defeat In Norwich
10:08am UK, Friday July 24, 2009
Sky sources say Labour has conceded defeat in the Norwich North by-election, the first since the MPs' expenses scandal.
A party insider said: "The Conservatives are trying to play down what is happening but I think the reality is that Labour is in a fight with the Lib Dems for second place.
"The turnout has been poor in traditional Labour areas and I think the reality is that the Tories have taken the seat."
And more from Timesonline:
Live blogging on Norwich North
10:35 Other people live blogging include:
Andrew Sparrow, from the count
Tim Montgomerie on Conservative Home
Iain Dale Norfolk Blogger, on Twitter
10:11 First, unscientific, cut from Norwich North ballots – very even between Lib Dems and Greens, with Labour probably just holding on to second place. A decent showing for UKIP without anything truly sensational. This would leave the Tories with the lowish vote share but biggish majority I tweeted yesterday evening. (Posted by Daniel Finkelstein of Timesonline)
Seems to be a lot of bloggers (including me) urgently quoting one another as the laid-back Norwich North counters enjoy their tea.
UPDATE: results to be announced any moment after 12.10 -