Shropshire Star

Council axes polling cards

Polling cards will no longer be sent to residents for town council elections in Much Wenlock, in a move labelled a “dark day for democracy”.

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Councillor David Turner

Much Wenlock Town Council voted at a meeting on Thursday night to no longer send out the polling cards for town council elections.

But the move has been criticised by Councillor David Turner, the town’s county councillor.

He said he fears it will lead to people not knowing there is an election taking place – and voiced fears that a 22 per cent turnout earlier this year could be repeated.

He said: “I was at the meeting where Much Wenlock Town Council made the decision to not issue polling cards for future elections.

“This inevitably means that many electors will be unaware of a poll – as happened recently.

“It’s a dark day for democracy.

“The decision was taken in respect of town council elections, not parliamentary, police and crime commissioner or referenda etc.

“I had endeavoured to put a case for those who live in outlying settlements, or who don’t read the parish magazine, but was silenced by the mayor.”

Councillor Turner is not a member of the town council, but was attending the meeting as the Shropshire Council member for the town.

Much Wenlock Town Council has been contacted for comment, but has so far not responded.

It is not clear how many parish or town councils nationwide have taken similar steps.

A nationwide consultation took place in 2014, but did not recommend any changes to polling cards.

Councillor Turner said he has spoken to a number of people in the town who he said felt “dismayed” that they would not be notified when there will be an election.

Earlier this year, a town council election took place in Much Wenlock which attracted just a 22 per cent turn out.

Councillor Turner said he feared similar numbers – or worse – could turn out for elections in future unless polling cards are issued.