‘Short-changed’ Anger at decision to not print polling cards for by-election

Hellesdon Parish Council's by-elections will not go ahead this week. Picture; Archant

Hellesdon Parish Council's by-elections will not go ahead this week. Picture; Archant - Credit: Archant

Fears have been raised that elderly voters have been 'short-changed' after a parish council opted against printing polling cards for an upcoming election.

Hellesdon Parish Council is due to hold an election on Thursday, March 19, after a quarter of its members resigned at once, leaving it four councillors short.

The election is just a week away, however, polling cards have not been distributed among parishioners, in a move made as a cost-cutting measure on the part of the parish council.

However, one of the departing councillors - and an existing district councillor - has raised fears this will lead to elderly members of community missing out on their chance to carry out their democratic right, and has questioned how well the election has been publicised.

Sue Prutton, who is Broadland District Council's member champion for older people, said: 'Hellesdon has quite a large elderly community including people who have lived in the parish for the best part of 60 years and will remember when what is now Gowing Road was just a field.

'Many older people are not particularly good with computers and the Internet so without their polling cards may not even know the election is taking place - let alone when it is and where they need to go to vote.'

Mrs Prutton added: 'I get the feeling a lot of Hellesdon's residents genuinely do not know what is going on. If you have a polling card through your door you know exactly where you have to be and when.

'It feels to me that people in Hellesdon have been short-changed.'

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Natasha Carver, parish clerk, said: 'The decision was taken by myself not to send poll cards as it would be a significant reduction in costs in excess of £3,000 for the by-elections being held in both ward.

'The elections are publicised on all 13 notice boards, the community centre, the parish website and Facebook page and was advertised in Just Hellesdon, which is delivered to all households.'

The election will be held on Thursday, March 19, at which voters will be asked to select two councillors for the north-west ward and two for the south-east ward. Those in the north-east will vote at Hellesdon Community Centre, while those in south-east will do so at St Paul's Church.