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Council ignores residents’ views on Polling Station move  

As some residents know, Elmbridge Council wants to change the Thames Ditton Polling Station from the Vera Fletcher Hall to the Community Centre in Mercer Close. The council had a consultation exercise, about which few residents were originally aware; but in the responses submitted, the results were overwhelmingly to keep the polling station at the Vera Fletcher Hall. Some residents may remember that a similar consultation exercise took place a few years ago, as a result of which it was agreed the Vera Fletcher Hall should be the polling place for Thames Ditton CA-register voters.

Vera Fletcher Hall is the most convenient for many voters, being more centrally located in the CA polling area, next to the station with its 1,500–1,900 daily commuters, and on a bus route. In their submissions to the council, 83 residents opposed the move to Mercer Close, one was neutral, and one supported it. But the council has been swayed more by the car park next to the community centre, and their worries of voters queuing out in the street in front of the Vera Fletcher Hall - a situation that developed briefly at the last election. However, outside queuing would be eliminated by improving the organisation of the individual stations within the hall; and the car parking and traffic situation can be argued as much for the hall as for the community centre.
 
The reasons cited by residents’ supporting the Vera Fletcher Hall in their submissions to the council are as follows :-

Central and convenient location       -  72%
Close to train station                         -  51%
Close to schools                                -  36%
Better parking/traffic by VF Hall*    -  14%
Close to bus stop                               -  12%
Greater voter turnout                         -  11%
Familiarity with location                   -    4%

   (* Parking – 7% thought it better at the community centre)
 
So now that the polling station is moving to the less convenient location in Mercer Close, the likely consequence will be a reduction in the high voter turnout that Thames Ditton usually achieves.  It’s a sad day for local democracy.