Concerns raised about polling station threat

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Fears have been raised that people living in isolated areas in the Upper Dales will find it harder to vote if polling stations are axed.

Coun John Blackie, a member of North Yorkshire County Council and the leader of Richmondshire District Council, is worried the proposals will see five polling stations at Carperby cum Thoresby, Arkengarthdale, Marrick, Marske and New Forest and Low Row lost with voters having to travel further to place their vote.

He is concerned the move will hit the elderly and those who rely on public transport and said many of the roads in the area were narrow, twisty roads that could be hard to negotiate in difficult weather.

“Those without access to a car will find it nigh on impossible to use public transport to get to and from the new polling station. For some of the communities where it is proposed to take away their polling stations, the last bus went 50 years ago,” Coun Blackie said.

The changes could mean voters in Marske and New Forest face a return journey of over nine miles to vote at Reeth and those in Marrick face a return journey of six miles to vote. Coun Blackie fears many people will simply chose to stay at home rather than take part in elections.

Householders across Richmondshire have been urged to have their say on the polling stations currently used in the district. As part of a review being undertaken by Richmondshire District Council they were also able to put forward suggestions for alternative venues. A decision about any changes is due to be made in October.

The review is also considering if polling stations are accessible to all electors, including those who are disabled.

Tony Clark, the council’s managing director said: “Richmondshire District Council is conducting a review of all its polling districts and places and welcome all comments from councillors and residents. Councillor Blackie’s views will be considered as part of that process – the results of which will be reported back to councillors in late October.”