It’s a “challenge” finding suitable polling stations, says council

Council chiefs will carry out a review of polling stations and admit it’s a challenge to find suitable venues.

By Lucy Ashton, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 03 June, 2019, 13:52
The Springvale Tavern

Sheffield Council received complaints after a polling station was held at The Springvale Tavern in Commonside, which remained open, for the European Parliament elections

Although the pub has been used by voters for several years, there were complaints that it could put off Muslim voters, especially as it was during Ramadan, and other people who feel uncomfortable in pubs.

There aren’t any exclusions as to what the Returning Officer can use as a polling station – in the past caravans and car boots have been used where the polling station cannot be opened for whatever reason.

As far as is practicable and reasonable, polling stations should be accessible to disabled voters.

James Henderson, director of policy, performance and communications at Sheffield Council said The Springvale had been used for a number of years due to lack of other suitable premises within the polling district.

“The task of ensuring that each of Sheffield’s 217 polling districts are served by its own polling station is a challenge, but one that we do our best to address,” he said.

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“We are reliant on the help and assistance of many organisations within the city who co-operate with us, often providing a venue at short notice.

“We recognise that there are issues of availability and suitability of venues, and do put in place temporary measures when appropriate to do so.

“We will be carrying out a review of our current polling stations over the summer and would welcome any comments or suggestions on alternative polling places.”

The council particularly struggled this year because there was uncertainty around the Euro elections due to Brexit and whether the UK would be taking part.

Normally elections are organised six months in advice but the Euros were more hastily arranged.

By law, booths should be capable of screening the voter’s mark on the ballot paper. There is no requirement for any extra screening around the booths, as the Presiding Officer at the station should be able to clearly see the booths, but not how the voter is voting.