Agreed – Charwood will be a polling station.

I received indication last month from the Council that they intent not to use Buckstone Primary School as a Polling Station, but will switch to Charwood. This is because (1) parents had previously complained about the school being used  and (2) there has already been enough disruption to learning over the past 2 years.
 
I welcome the change as it will reduce the impact on the kids at Buckstone PS (it is also slightly closer to my house in Buckstone, and parking will be better at Charwood for those that have to drive), but I accept it will be the second change in 5 years or so.
 
I collected feedback on the issue via my Facebook page, and raised a few questions with the Council about operational issues as a result. This was the response:
 
I have been on site at Charwood to view/discuss the space available, including access arrangements and their plans on the day. It is the restaurant’s intent to remain open for normal business. We would be using only their events space to the rear, which on the day of my visit was prepared for a funeral tea, something they would not be able to offer on the day of poll or the afternoon before due to the polling set up. The impact of their loss of business for this space over these days is already reflected in the fee they seek. Were we to ask them to close entirely, the venue would not be financially viable to us. Their events space does have its own designated access to the south east side of the building, located by five parking bays, which in the main would keep voters and diners well apart.
 
While ideal for the majority of voters, this entrance is not suitable as a disabled access point. As is the case with other polling places, disabled access would be at another entrance, in this case via their entrance on the south west face of the building. This would involve disabled voters passing though the restaurant’s reception area while the restaurant is open which is not ideal, but manageable by poll staff on the day, including a roaming information officer whose role it is to direct and assist access to and from the stations within. Attached is a photograph taken within the event space proposed. The doorway on the left in the teal coloured wall recess is the access through to the restaurant reception area which in the main would not be opened until such time as disabled access were to be required.
 
Based on the feedback I received from local residents, and the above response from the Council I was happy to support the change – it has now been agreed. I’m really grateful to Charwood for helping with this.

If you have concerns about using Charwood as a polling station, it is still possible to register for a postal vote here.

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