Six polling stations to be relocated despite fears over ‘erosion of rural life’
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
A Norfolk council is set to move several of its polling stations, despite fears over the “continual erosion of village and rural life”.
North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) will relocate six polling places across the district, after a consultation on voting in the area.
The council will move Matlaske from Little Barningham village hall to Baconsthorpe village hall; Sustead from Sustead village hall to Hanworth village hall; Tunstead Primary School to the Horse and Groom pub; as well as Bale village hall to Gunthorpe institute; Ingworth reading room to Erpingham village hall; and Sidestrand reading room to Trimingham village hall.
The council also planned to move Morston from the village hall to Blakeney village hall and Horsey from the Methodist Church to Sea Palling village hall but these moves were opposed.
During a council meeting held on Wednesday, November 18, councillors raised concerns over access to rural polling places.
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Angie Fitch-Tillett, councillor for Sidestrand, said the polling place was “difficult for access” as it had “no pavement” and parking problems and she would “with great reluctance” support a move.
While Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP and councillor for Holt, added: “We should make it easier not harder for people in our most rural communities to be able to exercise their democratic voice and go out and vote.
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“We’ve been here before and I don’t like it and it is a gradual and continual erosion of village and rural life. We see banks and post offices taken out of communities.”
Harry Blathwaite, councillor for Horsey, said: “To lose a polling station will pare away at the significance of these parishes, and I will include Morston in this as we are both on the margins of the ever-rising North Sea.”
He asked for more consideration on the proposed move.
Council leader Sarah Butikofer said: “There is a cost here actually - when it comes to some of these polling stations each individual vote can cost us up to £36 for one.
“Having said that I agree that there is no price for democracy.”
She said voters would be likely to use postal votes in 2021 and the council should not “kick the can down the road” but make a call.
Deputy leader Eric Seward suggested removing Morston and Horsey from the recommended list of relocated polling places.
The remaining six changes were agreed, with 29 votes in favour, seven against and two abstentions.