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andrew barrett-miles mid sussex district councilCouncillor demands dedicated polling station for just 400 potential voters - at an extra cost to tax-payers

6th February 2017
By Peter Chapman

The cost of the West Sussex County Council election in Burgess Hill is set to increase after a current councillor pushed heavily for a dedicated polling station for just 400 potential voters in the town.

The lesser-spotted Cll Andrew Barrett-Miles (Town Council Leader, Mid Sussex District Councillor, West Sussex County Councillor) spoke at the full meeting of Mid Sussex District council on Wednesday 1st February during the discussion of the polling station arrangements for May's County Council Elections.

Cllr Barrett-Miles took execption to the fact that around 400 potential voters - who usually vote at St Wilfrids Church in Station Road - will now have to make their way to St Edwards Church in Royal George Road to vote.

The inital change in polling arrangements has come about after the county council divisions in the town were re-drawn (See here for details)

MSDC's solicitor Tom Clark informed Cllr Barrett-Miles that the change had been made for reasons including administration ease and costs. A large number of people will use St Wilfrids Church to vote in the election, so adding just 400 voters who are voting for a different division could see the votes get mixed up and cause issues.

This answer was not good enough for Barrett-Miles, who said it was unfair to 'force' the voters to to travel 0.75 miles to a different voting station. He was keen to point out that many of the voters in this particular area are elderly. Ah yes, the elderly - statistically most likely to vote for the Conservative candidate. Andrew Barrett-Miles is the current sitting Conservative councillor on the county council.

Postal Voting
Seemingly Cllr Barrett-Miles is unaware of a wonderful service called the Postal Vote. It's where your voting slip is mailed to you. The recipient puts a cross in the box of their chosen candidate, pops it in the pre-paid envelop, and sends it off in the post. It's simple and gives you a much larger window of time to place your vote.

But no, Cllr Barrett-Miles wants to add to the cost of the election, as in the opinion of your reporter (and maybe you too) it suits the re-election chances of the Conservative candidate (i.e him)

Where's the concern for other voters?

During Mr Barrett-Miles' rant, not once did he mention voters in other parts of the town who have a far greater distance to travel in order to vote. For example, those living on the Hammonds Ridge estate have to vote at the Triangle Leisure Centre. It's 2 miles by car and 1.6 miles on foot. They used to vote at the Age Concern Building on Fairfield Road which is 1.3 miles by car and only 0.8 miles on foot.

Your reporter knows people living on this estate, and do you know what they did when the change was made? They registered for postal voting. Simple.

Andrew Barrett-Miles addresses Mid Sussex District Council

What The Council Resolved To Do
Cllr Barrett-Miles finished his rant at the meeting by saying MSDC is supposed to be a caring council, but they weren't showing a caring side on this matter as they were putting cost and efficiency ahead of the needs of the people.

Not one councillor at the meeting pointed out that voters aren't 'forced to walk 3/4 of a mile' and that the postal vote could be utilised. Why? Were they all asleep?

MSDC resolved to look into getting the voting station reinstated as St Wilfrids Church for those potential 400 voters - at an additional cost to the tax-payer.

Well done Cllr Barrett-Miles, you got things your way, and to hell with the rest of us!

Spread the word, a councillor wants to put an extra cost on the election so that a small number of potential voters won't have to travel the average distance to vote for his party in person.

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