Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Battle of the Bishopsteignton Polling Station

Earlier, I read an interesting post by Cllr Julian Ware-Lane looking to see if the number of polling stations in Southend could be reduced after a list of polling stations in operation for next month's PCC elections was released this week.

This got me thinking back to a little dispute that my fellow ward colleagues and I got into a few months ago with electoral services, when it was suggested that we should do away with the portable polling booth on the corner of Bishopsteignton and Maplin Way North and merge it with another polling station in Delaware Road.

The reason sited was that the weather in November would more than likely be inclement, possibly causing access to the portable polling station to be hazardous. This argument was quickly defeated when we pointed out that there was by-election in West Shoebury held in December 2006 in what was probably the worst conditions I have ever known an election to be held in and we never had one solitary complaint.

I suspected the real reason for the suggestion was as Cllr Ware-Lane suggests was to cut down on costs. The reason why a portable polling station was sited on the corner of Bishopsteignton and Maplin Way about ten years ago was because turnout was so woeful in that particular polling district.

Since the introduction of the portable polling station, it has had the highest turnout out of all of the polling districts in the ward. I suppose it is a simple equation: you take politics to the people and they will participate.

With participation in elections likely to plummet to new depts for the PCC elections,  I believed we need to do all we can to encourage turnout not decimate it! Fortunately, following our intervention common sense prevailed and the portable polling station will be in use on the 15 Novembet.

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