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Wolverhampton may see fewer polling stations

By Joe Sweeney | Wolverhampton | News | Published: | Last Updated:

There could be fewer places for people to vote in Wolverhampton during elections as the city gets set to conduct a money-saving review of polling stations.

Sign for polling station. Photo by Local Democracy Reporter David Irwin

Wolverhampton Council’s plans to designate its polling stations and districts for 2020-25 is set to go before bosses this week.

Following a three-stage consultation process, the council identified three main priorities that need to be revised.

Civic leaders are keen to reduce the number of schools used as polling stations, in order to minimise the impact on children’s education.

They are also working to avoid using costly temporary polling stations, which are regarded as being generally unsuitable, wherever possible.

The restructure aims to achieve a more even distribution of voters across polling districts, to make the most efficient use of each station.

Any reduction in the number of polling stations in the city will save the council around £4,000 each, by reducing hire costs and the number of staff needed.

In a report on the proposals, Wolverhampton Council’s head of governance Martyn Sergeant said: “Electoral services conducted a review of polling arrangements across the city.

“This considered factors such as the accessibility and suitability of each premises, availability, costs, how convenient the location was for voters, and how many people would be using each station.

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“We sought guidance from the disability charity, Scope, in identifying each appropriate polling station, especially the recommendation from the Electoral Commission that the maximum distance a resident should travel to a station is approximately one mile.

“The electoral guidance states that a polling station should not exceed 2,500 voters. However, in Wolverhampton the maximum number of people would be between 1,500 and 1,750.

“We have always strived to ensure that polling stations in the city are within half-a-mile of everyone, in order to balance the cost of running a polling station with ease of voting and accessibly for electors,” he added.

Polling station staff in Wolverhampton are also trained to assist disabled people to vote if required, by way of tactile voting aids or disabled access voting booths.

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Resident Stan Cummings, 77, who lives in Wednesfield, said he hoped the location of each polling station would remain largely unchanged.

“I’ve voted in Wolverhampton for decades and generally, we’ve always been lucky in terms of being able to get to the nearest polling station," he said.

“But if things change, like introducing new places to go and vote, then I’m sure a lot of people who are my age and don’t have the Internet, would struggle and find it more difficult to vote because they may not know where to go.

“I don’t visit the city centre very often, so it would also be hard to get in touch with the council, except by telephone,” he added.

The council’s governance committee will examine the review on Friday, and should any of the new proposals be accepted, the council’s returning officer will provide an update.

Copies of Wolverhampton’s 20 ward maps relating to each set of proposals can be obtained from electoral services by emailing electoral.registration@wolverhampton.gov.uk or calling 01902 555050.

Joe Sweeney

By Joe Sweeney
@JoeSweeneyLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Wolverhampton.

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