Nine South Staffordshire polling stations are moving to a new venue for next month’s elections.
Six stations are being moved out of schools, while two venues that are normally visited by voters are currently being used as Covid-19 vaccination centres and another site is no longer available, South Staffordshire councillors have heard.
South Staffordshire residents are due to go to the polls on May 6 to elect members of Staffordshire County Council and a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC).
The Staffordshire PFCC election was postponed last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Measures are now being put in place to make this year’s elections as safe as possible for staff, voters, candidates and campaigners.
On Thursday, April 15, South Staffordshire Council’s Standards and Resources Committee heard that the authority, which runs elections in the district, was “liaising with other colleagues across the county to ensure a consistent approach to election Covid security, including PPE requirements and lateral flow testing for staff”.
Voters are being asked to bring their own pen or pencil and wear a mask inside the polling station. Those unable to attend a polling station can apply for a postal before 5pm on Tuesday (April 20) or a proxy vote – allowing a trusted person to cast their ballot on their behalf – before 5pm on Tuesday, April 27.
For more information on applying for a postal or proxy vote in South Staffordshire visit sstaffs.gov.uk/elections/elections-2021.cfm
Lorraine Fowkes, the council’s monitoring officer, said letters were being sent out to residents affected by the polling station changes to inform them of the new venues.
She added: “That information will also be on the polling cards being issued so people should be aware of any changes. There will be signs on the old polling stations telling people where their new station is in case anyone turns up at the old polling station by mistake.
“A number of polling stations we would normally use are not available and a number are in schools. There has been a lot of disruption to education over the past 12 months and the Government has asked, where possible, we move any of those polling stations and we have tried to do that.
“We also have two venues being used as vaccination centres and that takes precedence.
“We try to minimise the use of schools, particularly if the school has to close as a result of being used as a polling station. We do have some school venues that do not need to close, therefore there isn’t a disruption to education.
“But going forward, we have sourced these alternative venues. If they are suitable there’s no reason why we couldn’t use them on a regular basis.”
Councillor Dan Kinsey said: “Quite a few of these polling stations are schools. I think we all understand why, particularly at this point in time, it is a good idea not to disrupt children’s education further.
“I wonder if this may be a sign of things to come in the future.”
Committee chairman Councillor Barry Bond said: “I know of some local authorities refusing to keep the schools open. They’re insisting on using schools as polling stations – what the reason is, I don’t know.
“Children’s education has been really badly affected over the past 12 months. I would have thought any opportunity to keep the schools open would have been seized.”
Changes to polling stations in South Staffordshire:
All Saints' School, in Bednall, will now move to Acton Trussell Community Centre
Glenthorne Primary School, in Cheslyn Hay, will now move to Cheslyn Hay Club
Great Wyrley Community Centre will move to the Senior Citizen's Centre
Birches First School, in Codsall, will move to Holy Cross Church Hall
Perton Middle School will move to Perton Pavilion and Scout Club
Codsall Methodist Church Hall will move to Codsall Village Hall
Blakeley Heath School in Wombourne will move to Wombourne Civic Centre
Cherry Trees School, in Wombourne, will also move to Wombourne Civic Centre
Himley Country Hotel will move to Himley Cricket Club