BOLTON: Several polling station venues set to move amid concerns about school closures and voters having too far to travel
Local Elections Polling Station at St Paul's Church, Armitage Bridge.
Some polling station venues in Bolton are set to change after complaints that some voters had too far to travel and that children were missing school without good reason.
With local elections set to next take place in May 2022, Bolton Council has concluded a polling district review and published a number of planned changes to station locations.
Where schools are used as polling venues they are required to close for the day, meaning children lose a day’s attendance.
In the Hulton ward, St Bede’s school suggested St Bede’s Church, just a few hundred yards away, as an alternative.
That suggestion has been accepted with the council set to pay £150 to hire the church building.
In Kearsley ward, several parents with children at St Saviours School expressed concern about their children missing school.
It was suggested to use the Emmanuel Mission as a polling station to avoid the school closing.
The mission building is next door to the school and they will charge around £150 for hire.
Similarly in the Heaton and Lostock ward, Lostock Primary School requested an alternative location ‘so as to avoid school closure and disruption’.
Regent Park Golf Club has an additional club house that is suitable for use as a polling station with good access, and the polling station staff will have sole use of it during the day.
The golf club has agreed not to charge for use of the building.
The Gates School, which is used for voters in Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, also asked for an alternative location and St John’s Wingates Church on Chorley Road will now be used with a hire charge of £150.
The report also states that a candidate for the Farnworth ward in last May’s election and neighbouring ward members commented that they received complaints from electors in the area of to the north of the railway line (Rowena Street, Ivanhoe Street, Starcliffe Street area) about the distance they had to travel to get to the polling station at Doe Hey Park Pavilion on Cawdor Avenue.
The number of electors affected by this was around 500.
The report, said: “A solution that has been suggested is to create a new polling district for properties north of the railway line and use All Saints Primary School as a polling station.
“This will require the school to close but offers an ideal location for the electors in this area.”
The report recommends that a new polling district is created, and All Saints School is used.
Comments have also been received by the council on the unequal number of polling stations in wards and requests made that this is looked at with a view to attempting to give each ward a set number of polling stations.
The report recommends that this is considered in 2022 in readiness for new ward boundaries in 2023.
The revisions will be put before councillors at a full council meeting on Wednesday, November 24.
Words: Chris Gee, Local Democracy Reporter
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