Fringe Box



Changes Mean You Should Check Your Polling Station For EU Elections

Published on: 22 May, 2019
Updated on: 23 May, 2019

By Chris Jewers

Some polling stations in Guildford have been changed for the European Parliament elections tomorrow (May 23). With the Brexit decision delayed until October 31, the upcoming election was not expected so several of the usual polling stations were not booked far enough in advance.

Zöe Franklin, the Liberal Democrats’ parliamentary candidate for the Guildford area, has urged voters to double-check their polling station before voting tomorrow.

Zoe Franklin

In an interview exclusive to the Guildford Dragon, she said: “Some locations have had to change the polling stations, so people just need to be aware.” She advised voters to check at their polling card again, or use to find which polling station they have been allocated.

Voters can enter their postcode, and the website will tell them the address of their polling station, and also display it on a map. Despite Brexit, Ms Franklin emphasised the importance of the elections to determine which Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) represent constituencies in the United Kingdom.

She added: “Brexit may not happen, or it may be that it’s pushed a bit further back, or it may actually happen on the 31st, but between now and then, we need to have representation in the EU.

“We will still be at the heart of the EU until that point and we need to be at the table making the decisions rather than having the decisions made for us. If we stay in the EU, the MEPs we elect will play a really important role of not only being the UK’s voice in the EU parliament but also being part of changing the EU for the better.

“Brexit is obviously the overarching issue but underneath that is a whole raft of other issues. The big story dominating every news cycle is the environmental emergency we face, and the EU has an enormous role when it comes to legislation to help ensure we are protecting the environment.

“You can do that at a national level, but there can be a lot more variation between nations setting their own legislation. If you have an over-arching body encouraging nations within its group to aspire to particular standards, you can raise the bar.”

Voter turnout has traditionally been much lower in EU elections. In the 2014 EU elections, only 35.6 per cent of the electorate cast their votes nationally, compared to the 2015 General Election with 66.4 per cent.

But Ms Franklin believes this election could be different. “People I have spoken to and the vibe we are getting is that people are very interested in this European election, possibly in a way they haven’t been before.

“It’s never going to be as high as a general election I don’t think, but it may be in the realms of a good turnout. There’s a lot of highly motivated people on both sides of the discussion and I think that certainly will get people out to vote.”

Guildford is included in the South-east constituency which has 10 seats in the European Parliament, making it the best-represented constituency in the UK, which has 73 seats.

The Liberal Democrats are fielding a candidate for each South-east seat in this election, including long- serving candidate Catherine Bearder, the only sitting Liberal Democrat MEP.

“It is unfortunate that they don’t get very much press,” Ms Franklin said. “They work really hard. Catherine spends a lot of time in Brussels, but also a lot of time touring around her constituency.

“It’s actually a vast constituency, Kent up to Milton Keynes, to the Isle of Wight and everything in between. She’s only one MEP but she punches above her weight.”

Ms Franklin added: “Polling across the South-east region suggests the Brexit party will have the largest vote. And then I believe it says the Lib Dems are next. Which would be a fantastic result for us, it’s a fantastic result for Remainers everywhere.”

Leave campaigner Christian Holliday

Christian Holliday, Leave campaign organiser and former Conservative councillor for Burpham said: “The Brexit issue transcends normal politics and the nature of European elections, and let’s be honest, the rife disdain for European institutions, means people often ‘go wandering’ to other parties with their vote.

“This is more likely than ever given the confusion over the issue from the Government and official opposition, both of who are half-heartedly pursuing a Remainers Brexit. There was no mention of a ‘divorce agreement’ on the ballot paper in 2016. We voted to Leave.

“In the South-east, the big question is can the Conservative Party put up a decent showing. If it can’t, good hard-working MEPs may be lost, just as so many councillors were lost two weeks ago, and even more pressure will be piled on Mrs May to go soon.”

Results of the election will not be available till Sunday night. More detail is available on the BBC’s website:

Guildford Borough Council have changed eight polling stations:
A2 now at Sutherland Memorial Hall as Burpham Village Hall is not available;
E3 now at Bushy Hill School as Merrow Village Hall is not available;
F5 now at James Black Road Common Room as the Reception Centre is not available;
G2 now in The Sands Room as Seale Village Hall is not available;
I3 now at the Annexe at St Peter’s Church, Larch Avenue as the Stoke and District Horticultural Hall is not available;
M4 returning to Horsley Library as East Horsley Village Hall is not available;
P1 now at Send C of E, Send Marsh Road as Lancaster Hall is not available; and
R3 now at The Benson Room, Japonica Court as Tongham Community Centre is undergoing refurbishment.

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