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Villagers hold 'march for democracy' to cast votes in polling station two miles away

PUBLISHED: 17:31 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:31 02 May 2019

Villagers from Saxlingham Nethergate, who marched to their nearest polling station in Shotesham to protect the closure of theirs. Picture: Marie Francis

Villagers from Saxlingham Nethergate, who marched to their nearest polling station in Shotesham to protect the closure of theirs. Picture: Marie Francis

Marie Francis

A group of south Norfolk villagers have held a "march for democracy" on election day, traipsing to their nearest polling station more than two miles away.

A map showing the distance Saxlingham Nethergate voters will have to travel on polling day. Picture: GoogleA map showing the distance Saxlingham Nethergate voters will have to travel on polling day. Picture: Google

Following a mix-up between Saxlingham Nethegate Parish Council and South Norfolk Council, the regular polling station in the village hall was out of operation today - after it was double booked with a nursery group.

Instead, villagers were faced with either voting at Trinity Church in Shotesham - the next village along - or not taking part in the democratic process.

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In an act of solidarity to anybody faced with longer-than-average trips to their nearest polling station, representatives from the parish council and visitors completed the 4.2 mile round trip on foot to cast their votes today.

More than a dozen people completed the march, which started off at the village hall - where they had all expected to be able to vote.

Marie Francis, vice chairman of Saxlingham Parish Council, said: “Closing the polling station is a significant infringement of the democrat rights of more than 600 residents. We strongly feel that the rights of rural people to vote democratically should be upheld.

“The parish council feels so strongly it now has a lawyer who is preparing an appeal to the electoral commission to have the decision reversed.”

Kate Blincoe, a mother-of-two from the village, added: “I always call in to vote after picking up the children from the village school. We walk down to the village hall and they learn about the voting process. We haven't been able to do that this time.”

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