'You can't complain if you don't vote': Norfolk election day 2021

Annie O'Driscoll, a voter at the Jessopp Road polling station

Annie O'Driscoll, voting at Jessopp Road polling station - Credit: Archant

Despite the pouring rain, voters headed to the polls on Thursday, casting their votes in a series of local elections across Norfolk.   

Out at polling stations, the electorate talked about voting being a duty, the issues that brought them out and not being able to complain about the result if you don’t vote.  

Jessopp Road in Norwich saw a steady stream of voters, but it was a far cry from the queue of 50 voters at the general election in 2015.  

A voter in the 2021 local election at the Jessopp Road polling station in Norwich

Steven Smith, a voter at the Jessopp Road polling station - Credit: Archant

Steven Smith, 66, said he was focusing on local issues when he cast his ballot.  

“It’s my duty to get out and vote - could have been a better day for it though,” he said.  

“It’s the local issues, a lot of people have dumped things on the verge up near the library and nobody seems to be coming along to take it away.   

“Lots of times I see little gas canisters and dog mess, things making the place seem untidy.”  

Dog waiting for his owner to return from voting at the Jessopp road polling station

Dog waiting for his owner to return from voting at the Jessopp road polling station - Credit: Archant

Mr Smith said he was disappointed to have only received leaflets from Labour councillors, saying he would like to have made a more informed decision.  

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A former Labour voter, Mr Smith said this time he had cast his ballot for the Conservatives.  

“I’ve been lost from the party,” he said. “They’ve moved away from what I used to vote for.   

“I do belong to a union, but I have no bonds to the Labour Party anymore, I feel they’ve forgotten me. I feel disenfranchised, lost.”  

Annie O’Driscoll said voting had always been important in her family, with her dad standing as a Labour councillor.  

“I think it’s important that everyone gets out and votes,” she said.  

“As the mum of two boys, there’s stuff the Labour party have done for young families in Norwich that we need to continue.”  

At Chantry Hall, in Norwich city centre, voters dried up as the rains became torrential.  

Chantry Hall polling station

Chantry Hall polling station - Credit: Archant

One woman, who asked not to be named, said she was particularly concerned about litter in the city.  

“You can’t complain if you don’t vote,” she said. 

“I think everyone is doing their best but I would like to see more done.   

“I did vote Green, partly because the only communication I had was from them, I figure if they care enough to knock on my door twice then they’ll care for the people of Norwich.”  

While she said it had been a strange election, she had become accustomed to wearing masks and the extra measures put in place.  

Other voters said national issues were a key focus for them, with one labelling the government “the worst in living memory”. 

The 57-year-old Irish Norwich resident said she was particularly concerned about the way the government had handled Covid and issues in Northern Ireland. 

Signs for the Jessopp road polling station

Signs for the Jessopp road polling station - Credit: Archant

She added: “It tells me they’re not acting in the interests of people, but in the interests of their own donors and sponsors.” 

Yarmouth polling stations, St George’s Theatre Café and The Conge, were both largely empty, but one person, who did not wish to be named, encouraged people to come out and vote.  

“It’s a big open space inside, and the usual restrictions apply within," they said.

“I did forget my pencil though. Luckily, the polling station had a couple spare.”  

In Fakenham, voters at the town's community centre were greeted with the social distancing signs and screens which have become part of everyday life.

Richard Andrews

Richard Andrews, voting in Fakenham. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

Richard Andrews, from Fakenham, said: "It felt a bit different with all the screens, but we are used to it now it feels quite normal.

"I used one of their pens. I’m not too worried about it I’ve had both my vaccines and wore a mask.”

At the polling station in Downham Market Methodist Church, Brian Davidson, 63, who has lived in the town for 30 years, said the experience was no different to normal, with everyone keeping their distance.

He said: "The weather has not helped more than anything, but restrictions are not any different.

"It's totally and utterly important to vote. I have always voted, people gave up their lives for that."

Want to know more about voting in Norfolk? Follow our election day guide.  

Check back in on Friday and Saturday, as we bring you live coverage of the election counts across Norfolk.