Disabled grandad unable to get into polling booth

Christopher Hockney, of Killamarsh was unable to vote in the general election as the polling station, Killamarsh Junior School, didn't have a high enough ramp for him to use his scooter and get into the building
Christopher Hockney, of Killamarsh was unable to vote in the general election as the polling station, Killamarsh Junior School, didn't have a high enough ramp for him to use his scooter and get into the building
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A disabled grandad-of-five was unable to get into a polling station to vote on election day – because the wheelchair ramp was too low.

Christopher Hockney said the ‘inadequate’ access at the Killamarsh Junior School polling station on Sheffield Road made him feel ‘as though I didn’t matter’.

The 53-year-old could not be lifted or pushed into the building and was told he could vote outside in the rain but refused as he wanted to do so in a private polling booth like other voters.

North East Derbyshire District Council, which operated the polling station, is now investigating.

Mr Hockney, of Killamarsh, said: “I was left so angry and frustrated, as though I didn’t matter.

“There were people trying to help me in who must have been 70 or 80, old enough to be my parents.

“It’s 2015 and, although people including the polling station staff were doing their best to help me vote, it shouldn’t have been a problem – it should have been a straight in and out job.

“Everyone should be able to easily vote regardless of whether you are able bodied or not.”

Mr Hockney, a former joiner, is unable to walk more than a few steps due to a congenital back condition.

He said: “The staff said I could vote outside but it was chucking it down with rain, I was already wet through.

“I didn’t want to be treated differently, I just wanted to vote inside a polling booth like everybody else.”

The district council said wheelchair access was one of the factors considered when polling stations were selected to make sure they were accessible to all.

A spokesman added: “We were made aware of an issue and spoke to the person involved to try and rectify the situation.

“We did offer an alternative solution, but the individual did not want to take this up which is their right, and we are extremely sorry that this person could not vote within the building.

“No concerns or problems were raised regarding the Killamarsh Junior School station.

“We have used these premises before with no problem, so we are now investigating the wheelchair access with the owners of the premises and are waiting for the report from the presiding officer.”