WYRE Forest District Council has come under scrutiny over plans to move a polling station in Kidderminster, meaning some residents would need to travel further to vote.

A consultation is under way to introduce a polling place at Habberley Social Club, which would see residents who usually vote at Gainsborough House Hotel voting at either Habberley Social Club or Kidderminster Carolians Rugby Football Club.

Some residents who normally cast their vote at the rugby club would see their polling place changed to Habberley Social Club, depending on their postcode.

The consultation follows an initial public engagement exercise last year over the future of the Gainsborough House polling station, however ward member for Habberley South, Councillor Tracey Onslow, says residents' opinions aren't being listened to.

Cllr Onslow says only 10 voters out of the 3,150 registered at Gainsborough polling place responded to the initial survey - three of whom said the station should be moved to the town centre, four said it should stay at Gainsborough and three said it should move to Habberley Estate.

Another eight commenters were in favour of an additional polling station on the Habberley Estate.

Cllr Onslow said: "Unfortunately, this current consultation is only providing one option for residents to respond to - that the Gainsborough polling station be moved to Habberley Estate for some voters or to Kidderminster Carolians Rugby Football Club for others.

"This ignores the majority of responses, which were either to leave it and/or to have an additional polling station on the estate."

Cllr Onslow added: "I urge all residents who vote at the Gainsborough Hotel on election days to participate in this consultation.

"Points raised by residents in September 2019’s consultation have not transferred into this next consultation.

"What I object to is asking residents their opinion and then ignoring it and I have raised this issue with Wyre Forest District Council.

“For me, it is up to residents where they have their polling station - Habberley, Carolians, Gainsborough or in town - it is wherever it is most suitable for the majority, as decided by a fair process.

"In the table showing measurements of distance to polling stations, the results show that relocating the polling station to these locations moves the polling stations further away from voters.

"Again, it is up to local residents to decide and therefore I urge as many voters to participate to ensure a decision can be made with good representation by the community.

"Also, if the availability of the Gainsborough should change in future, then all possible sites should be consulted on, not just two picked at random."

A spokesperson for Wyre Forest District Council said: “It is normal for polling place reviews to make a proposal on which electors can express their views.

"We encourage electors to take part in the consultation and let us know whether or not they support the proposal.

"The full council meeting in December will consider responses to the consultation and will take a decision on whether or not to implement any changes.”

Blakebrook and Habberley South ward member, Councillor Leigh Whitehouse, added: “This is interesting from the Conservatives. First and foremost this is a fair proposal, seeking to put a polling station back in to Habberley Estate.

“Secondly, it is worth remembering, under the Conservatives watch, it was ripped out of the estate a few years ago, along with the bus service. The residents of Habberley, many of which are elderly, have been calling for the polling station back, particularly since their bus service was pulled, leaving them isolated.” 

“On balance, I feel strongly this is a fair and balanced proposal. I would urge residents across the patch to support it. Let’s make this less about the politics and more about the people we serve.

"I would encourage voters to consider moving to postal voting - they are a really convenient way of voting from the comfort of your armchair”. 

People can submit their views on the proposed polling place changes by visiting wyreforestdc.gov.uk/pollingreviews before the November 6 deadline.

Responses can also be submitted in writing to Mike Saunders, Elections Office, Wyre Forest House, Fine Point Way, Kidderminster, DY11 7WF or via email to electoral@wyreforestdc.gov.uk.