Alternative polling stations to get the vote to replace schools

New venues are set to replace some of the schools which usually have to close during elections so they can be used as polling stations.

Although some schools are able to remain open while residents are voting, others are forced to close for the day during an election because of safeguarding issues. During the European election on 23 May, 13 schools had to shut for the day.

The council is currently carrying out a review about polling places in the two parliamentary constituencies in Merton – Mitcham & Morden and Wimbledon.

As part of the review, a public consultation was carried out. This ran from 12 July until Monday (9 September) and 68 responses were received.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools and Adult Education, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, said: “Thank you to everyone who responded to the consultation about polling districts and polling places. We will review all the feedback we have received thoroughly before it goes to Council for a final decision.

“In the meantime, we have made it a priority to find alternative places to schools to use as polling stations and have already identified some other potential buildings. We initiated the search in response to feedback from parents who wanted to prevent their children’s education from being disrupted on polling days.”

The Council is currently in discussions with potential replacement venues for more than five of the schools, as well as local ward councillors in those areas. The search is actively continuing for further sites which could host polling stations instead of schools.

The results of the consultation will go to the Standards and General Purposes Committee, before Council is asked to approve proposed new venues as alternatives to schools at their meeting in November.

If there is a snap general election before Council in November, we will look to trial these new arrangements where feasible, in order to keep as many schools open as possible.