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Burnley poll switch 'deprives villagers of vote'
1:51pm Tuesday 24th December 2013 in News
HUNDREDS of voters in rural Burnley are being ‘disenfranchised’ by a polling station change backed by town hall bosses.
Cliviger councillor Cosima Towneley has even suggested erecting a marquee to cater for the electorate in Walk Mill at the next borough poll.
Controversy has been created over the past two years after a decision was taken to axe the RACA pavilion as a polling station and ask voters to use Cliviger village hall instead.
The pavilion was felt to be ‘too small’ and presented risks regarding the ‘secrecy’ of individual voters.
And it was also said to be ‘too cold’ as the size of the building meant the door had to be kept open during polling.
Coun Towneley told a full council meeting that the decision had seen voter turnout in the area dropping from more than 50 per cent to only 35 per cent.
The village hall was at least a mile-and-a-half away from the Walk Mill area and for residents of Bacup Road it was at least a four to six mile round trip.
She added: “I would propose that we use a tent for the forthcoming elections in May, to see how it works. I would ask for your support in re-enfranchising members of my ward.”
But the move, though supported by fellow Conservatives, failed to win the backing of Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors.
Council leader Coun Julie Cooper said she ‘had a great deal of sympathy’ with voters in Cliviger.
“But I have to say that I have looked into this thoroughly and it is not sufficient for us to say that it should be used for these reasons,” she said.
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