‘Polling sta­tion cuts are a cyn­i­cal move’

Coun­cil­lor fears that elec­tions will be ma­nip­u­lated

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

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