- Brunel petitions Hillingdon Council to overturn a decision to move polling stations further away from campus by up to a 40 minute walk;
- Green Party Candidate Graham Lee calls the decision "a politically inspired move by the Conservative majority";
- Hillingdon Council Labour Group brand the move "part of yet another cost saving exercise by the local authority rather than a meaningful review of the current arrangements";
- Boris Johnson's press office contacted for comment but no response.
- Councillor Nick Denys Announces on Twitter: Decision Postponed Until January
- Hillingdon Council Respons: Decision to postpone will be taken at the meeting on Thursday the Sixth
Update: Hillingdon Council Postpones Poll Station Changes
. @Hillingdon Council motion on changing location & number of polling stations in some wards has been postponed until Jan. More consultation
— Cllr Nick Denys (@CllrNickDenys) November 5, 2014
Le Nurb are approaching Hillingdon Council and Council members of both parties for further comment, as well as seeking further information about the consultation process which is to be put in place. Brunel Student's petition has at time of writing over 500 signatures.
2nd Update: Hillingdon Council Replies, Say that motion to postpone will be voted on in a meeting tomorrow
Tweets from Hillingdon Council in reply to Nick Deny suggest that the councillor was jumping the gun. The motion will be put forward at a meeting tomorrow and voted on then, and is yet to be set in stone.
— Hillingdon Council (@Hillingdon) November 5, 2014
— Hillingdon Council (@Hillingdon) November 5, 2014
This week the Union of Brunel Students received the information that their proposal to have a polling station on campus was rejected by the cabinet member responsible for the polling station review. You can read the full story here.
Following this story, Le Nurb and the Union of Brunel Students approached the major party candidates standing for the general election in the Hillingdon & South Ruislip constituency for comment.
Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Uxbridge & South Ruislip, Chris Summers, says:
I totally support the proposal by The Union of Brunel Students to have a polling station for the May 2015 general election on the University campus. The recent Scottish referendum - where people aged 16 and 17 were allowed to vote - has shown how engaged young people can get with the political process if they feel their contribution will make a difference. The turnout at the 2010 general election in Uxbridge & South Ruislip was 63.3% - down from 82.55% in 1966 - and I fear that the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration will accelerate the fall in turnout.
Chris Summers goes on to say:
Hillingdon Council should be encouraging young people to take part in democracy and the opening of a polling station on the university campus would send out a signal that Brunel students are not only welcome in the community but are welcome to have their say about the future of the community. Many students will be taking their exams in May and will be studying hard. If the nearest polling station is a 20 minute walk away then significant numbers will decide that - rather than giving up an hour of their time - they will just not vote and that would be very sad at an election which will have such an important influence on their futures.
Hillingdon Council not only turned down Brunel’s original proposal to have a polling station on campus, but is moving the two closest polling stations further away from campus, creating a split where different parts of campus are registered at different polling stations. These Polling stations are currently planned to be at Bishopsholt School and Walter Pomeroy Hall, Royal Lane.
In a letter of support to active members of Brunel’s Green Party, Graham J. Lee, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate made this statement:
I brought this matter to the attention of the A.G.M. of Hillingdon Green Party last evening [Thursday 29 October]. It was resolved that we put on record our support of the campaign to have polling stations on Brunel Campus as set out very clearly by Kerri Prince [UBS Community Development Coordinator] and Union of Brunel Students in the report going to the Council Meeting on 6th November. This is particularly important with elections usually taking place at exam time.
Graham J. Lee goes on to say, in an expansion email:
I am suggesting that this is a politically inspired move by the Conservative majority for electoral reasons. For this reason I do not think it would help your case if I became the lead person on behalf of the Brunel students, however I wish it to be known that I fully support your stance which is in accordance with the Electoral Commission’s wish to increase voter participation.
Josh Dixon, Chair of the Hillingdon Liberal Democrats and Brunel alumni, highlighted the danger of risking student political apathy as he commented:
As a young person in politics I know how difficult it is to engage other young people. I was lucky enough to be elected as Chair of Hillingdon Lib Dems because I was empowered by others to stand. A polling station on campus would be a fantastic way to help empower more young people to vote in elections and the council's decision to not allow one on the campus is a real missed opportunity to reach out and engage more young people in the political process.
In London Borough of Hillingdon Council Meeting, Thursday 6th of November, the Hillingdon Council Labour Group pointed out that:
The proposals circulated by the Returning Officer appear, on paper at least, to be part of yet another cost saving exercise by the local authority rather than a meaningful review of the current arrangements. We believe that the
proposed arrangements will not lead to any meaningful savings but WILL make voting for a large number of electors more difficult and certainly less convenient.
Continuing on this theme of scepticism over the potential changes, the Hillingdon Council Labour Group goes on to discuss the proposed changes to the Brunel ward polling stations, pledging their support to protest these changes:
We are amazed that it is proposed to remove the polling district for Ruislip Gardens in the South Ruislip Ward and also to the removal of UA4 in the Brunel ward. These changes will dramatically affect the electors in these areas and we wish to assure the current ward Councillors for these wards that all of our Labour Councillors will support them if they seek to make amendments to the proposals for these wards.
The timescale we face means that we have less than a week to gather the names of students in a petition and show the council that our votes and voices count. To sign the petition, head on over to www.change.org, you can read our initial article on this story, or get involved with the discussion via @le_nurbonline under #BrunelVotes or Facebook
Article updated 14:36 05/11/2014 to include statement from Hillingdon Council