'It's atrocious that they should close for this' - some schools set to stop being polling stations in Northampton
A number of primary schools are set to be removed as polling stations on election days as part of a council shake-up of where people head to vote.
Northampton Borough Council is legally required by the government to hold a review of its polling booths/stations and this needs to be done by next year.
Recommendations include removing Barry Road School, St Andrew’s CEVA Primary School, Lings Primary School and East Hunsbury Primary School as polling stations amongst a host of other changes.
It follows a period of public consultation which was carried out over the summer and finished in August. It helped prepare the draft recommendations, which were noted by the General Purposes Committee last Tuesday (September 17) and will now go to further consultation. The final recommendations will be brought to a meeting of the committee on November 5.
One parent of a Barry Road pupil said in the consultation: “I consider it atrocious that a whole school has to close for this purpose. While it may be argued by the election officials that they only require access to one room for use as a polling station, anyone who is familiar with modern safeguarding procedures in schools knows that to allow the public access to one classroom is to put all students at an unacceptable level of risk; the school has had the polling station forced upon them and has no choice but to close.”
No changes have been proposed in the following wards: Boothville, Delapre & Briar Hill, Eastfield, Headlands, Kings Heath, Nene Valley, New Duston, Old Duston, Park, Phippsville, Rectory Farm, Riverside, Rushmills, Semilong, Spencer, Spring Park, St David’s, St James, West Hunsbury.
But the proposed changes for the remaining wards are as follows.
No longer held at Barry Road School. Will instead use a mobile polling station in the Co-op car park on Barry Road.
Replace St Andrew’s CEVA Primary School, with suggestions taken on board to use The Bipin Brook instead.
Replace Lings Primary School with Brookside Hall.
Castle Community Hub is no longer available and it is proposed that Spring Boroughs Hub replaces it.
East Hunsbury Primary School station to be sent over to existing polls at Blackymore Community Centre.
No changes. But it contains an area that falls in a different county division. The land involved is currently undeveloped and expected to remain so. This polling district will therefore have no voters in person and for technical purposes only will be allocated to the polling place at the Pioneer public house.
No changes proposed until a further review is done for the unitary council with the facility to have two polling stations at Kingsthorpe Community Centre if necessary at any election.
Sunley Management and Conference Centre, which was at the university, has been demolished. It is proposed to use All Saints CEVA Primary School as they are able to provide a room that doesn’t involve the closure of the school.
It is proposed to use Parklands Learning and Care Centre instead of the Nursery School which will mean the school is able to stay open. The groups normally in the Care Centre on polling day will be covered by the school.
Hinton Road Community Rooms was ‘too small and inaccessible’ while The Sunley Centre at the university has now been demolished. The proposal is to replace both with stations at Hinton Road Community Centre and at Green Oaks School.
Residents will vote at Rectory Farm Community Centre instead of the mobile unit outside it. Investigations ongoing for a possible alternative to Lodge Farm Community Centre.
Bethany Homestead to be used instead of The Newton Building at the university’s Avenue Campus.
It is proposed to use Pineham Barns Primary School at Hunsbury Meadows instead of the mobile unit at Banbury Lane.
To improve accessibility it is proposed to assign James Lewis Court, Community Hub instead of Headlands United Reformed Church.