Lib Dems cry foul amid claims that disabled voters are made to call mobile number so ballot box can be brought out to them

Lorna Dupré at Sutton polling station (The Glebe, Sutton) 24 April 2014. Lorna Dupré at Sutton polling station (The Glebe, Sutton) 24 April 2014.

Thursday, April 24, 2014
2:02 PM

Confusion over disabled access to the polling station in Sutton may prevent people from voting in today’s by-election, according to Liberal Democrats.

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Party officials claim that a sign has been placed at the entrance to the station requesting anyone who is unable to enter the building to call one of two mobile numbers, which would see election officials bring the ballot box out to them.

Lib Dem campaigner Rupert Moss-Eccardt said he had “never seen anything at all like it”, adding: “It is very unusual. It’s not very good to expect any electorate who aren’t mobile to see this sign and then make a phone call.

“And if they haven’t got a phone, what are they supposed to do? Somebody has already said to us that they are not going to bother voting because of it.”

But East Cambridgeshire District Council, which is managing the election, has said that disabled access has in fact been maintained to the polling station and that the signs were in place for people who felt unable to use the access path.

The by-election for the vacant East Cambridgeshire District Council seat is being staged today (Thursday), with The Glebe being used as the village’s polling station.

But, earlier this month, Sutton Parish Council voted to close off vehicle access to The Glebe because of concern over a boundary wall, which the council says is unstable and could collapse.

A statement on Sutton Parish Council’s website read: “The entrance to the drive has now been closed, allowing for entrance for pedestrians only. The reason for this action is due to the stability of the wall adjacent to the drive way. The council has deemed the stability of the wall to be of high risk.”

As a result, cars are unable to use the driveway and pedestrians have to walk along a small section of pathway.

The district council insists that the path is wide enough for anyone who wishes to use a mobility scooter or wheelchair and added that the signs were in place to help those who felt unable.

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