'Stop closing our school for election days': Parents call on Northampton Borough Council to reconsider polling station

From left: Sophie Griffiths, Alana Warburton and Laura Walton.From left: Sophie Griffiths, Alana Warburton and Laura Walton.
From left: Sophie Griffiths, Alana Warburton and Laura Walton.
A polling booth for elections that forces a Northampton school to close for the day is costing parents up to £60 each time in childcare costs.

Now parents are calling for Northampton Borough Council to stop using Cedar Road Primary School, stating their children have lost four days of education in two years.The mums say there should be a mobile polling station or another viable voting location due to the cost, stress and financial loss it causes parents. Sophie Griffiths has a daughter in reception and a two-year-old. She said: “It’s been closed four days since last May, it’s a big loss of education.

"The SATS are coming up in the next week - this week is a three day week - it puts pressure on children in year six and teachers. I would like to see the council explore a mobile polling station.

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"We want to put pressure on the council to make this a reality, we would like to see this change for the future, and be supportive of local families, don't penalise them. I have vested interests in this school for the next 10 years."The parents argue that there is a decline in voter footfall due to a high number of postal voters and only a “handful” of people turned out to cast their vote at the police and crime commissioner elections last year.

A spokesperson for Northampton Borough Council said: “All attempts are made to minimise the use of schools in the borough as polling stations, however, law requires that the most convenient locations for voters are established and on occasion, it is necessary to designate a school as polling station.

"When this is the case we are always willing to work with the school to seek a way in which the school can continue to open. Whilst some schools are able to do this, schools do not always find that this is possible.”

“Polling Stations are regularly reviewed and a full review will take place before the next scheduled borough-wide election, which is in 2019, and the views of the public on the location of polling stations will be sought.”

Mum-of-two, Alana Warburton runs her own business.

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She has a daughter and a son at Cedar Road Primary School and suggests that "teacher training days should be on polling days."

She claims it is "hypocrisy" that parents are fined by the Government for taking children out of school for a holiday and the children are entitled to four days off.

A spokesperson for the David Ross Education Trust said: "The local returning officer has the right, by law, to make use of any school premises for the purpose of an election.

"Schools cannot refuse such a request.”