‘Polling station cuts are a cynical move’
Councillor fears that elections will be manipulated
A COUNCILLOR says Conservative plans for cutting the number of polling stations in the Hillingdon borough have been ‘cynically’ designed to manipulate election outcomes.
Councillor Tony Burles, who represents Uxbridge South, said Tory councillors were targeting stations in Labour areas for closure.
He said: “They seem to have picked on the stronger Labour sites, making it more difficult. For some people it is going to take them over an hour [to reach a polling station]. I think it is very cynical, making it more difficult for people to vote, putting obstacles in their way.”
Hillingdon Council’s current proposals involve closing six polling stations across the borough.
However, two of these are in locations with more than one station, meaning voters will not have to go elsewhere. The proposals are still subject to public consultation.
Those stations currently earmarked for potential closure are in Botwell, where two face the axe, Brunel, Harefield and Heathrow Villages, where another two are in line for the chop.
All three of Botwell’s councillors are Labour representatives; in Brunel all three are Conservative; in Harefield both are Conservative; and in Heathrow Villages all three are Labour.
Leader of the Hillingdon Labour group, Councillor Mo Khursheed, has previously criticised the plans, saying they would inconvenience voters and therefore reduce turnout.
But at the time of his criticism he said the issue was ‘not about party politics’, affecting both Conservative and Labour strongholds.
Leader of the Conservative-led council, Councillor Ray Puddifoot, declined to comment.
Local authorities are required to review their polling districts and station locations every five years. Hillingdon Council must complete its next review by the end of this month. The proposals will be reviewed, taking into account residents’ comments made as part of a consultation process, which ended last week.
n CONCERNS: Councillor Tony Burles