Saturday, January 22, 2011

Polling Stations in Copeland

Copeland Council has, as required by the Electoral Commission, been conducting a review of polling stations. I have been one of the three councillors on a "Task and Finish Group" which was part of that review.

The main issue has been with disabled access - a horrifyingly high proportion of polling stations were not DDA compliant (E.g. they did not meet the standards laid down in the Disability Discrimination Act). Mostly these were the ones in private houses but there were some public buildings which were not offering disabled people the service they should. We had a very constructive meeting earlier this month with the Copeland Disability Forum and the South Copeland group to discuss some of their areas of concern about this.

However we have also been looking at areas in both urban and rural parst of Copeland - the Sunny Hill area, for instance - where the nearest polling station is not conveniently located.

Our recommendations have now gone to the officers who manage this area and are looking at whether they can be implemented.

I would expect to see that there may be a significant number of polling stations moved from this May's elections in an attempt to locate them in more suitable locations which are easier for both able-bodied and disabled voters to get to.

So check your polling card carefully before the May elections.

I will post an update here when the final decisions are made.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh you've woken up have you.
There is very little in Copeland that is DDA compliant, take for example the places you hold your wards Neighbourhood form meetings, not one of them compliant.

All public meetings (more so ones organised by our Councils) should be in compliant buildings. If Councils complied with this and Councillors made them, then we would by know have had many more compliant facilities than we have. If our Councils can't set a good example why should anyone else bother, hence Copeland is still the way it is.

Chris Whiteside said...

It is true that there are far too many public buildings in Copeland which are not DDA compliant - that was rather the point I was making.

However, organisations representing disabled people did not raise any issues with us about either Bransty School or the United Reform Church at Market Place. Do you have a specific concern about the accessibility of either of those venues, and if so, what is it?

Anonymous said...

The lack of a loop system in any of the venues used for Neighbourhood forum meetings has been raised on several occasions, but as usual the issue is ignored.
United Reformed Church and Bransty Legion don't have loop systems, neither does Egremont Market Hall used on Thursday for Cumbria CC consultation. Not sure about Bransty School but the seating arrangements certainly weren't suitable - you had to sit on childrens seats if you can get down in to them. Very little in Copeland is compliant and the Council Officers certainly do little to help.

Chris Whiteside said...

Bransty Legion has now closed.

As you are obviously aware, the replacement venue used for forum meetings on Bransty Hill is Bransty School, which is also a polling station.

I asked at the final meeting of the Polling Stations working group this week whether Bransty School is DDA compliant, and was told that the chairman of the Copeland Disability Forum (who lives on Bransty Hill) had said that it is.

However, your point about the Loop system is well taken and I will raise it with the forum chairman.