Rye woman blasts lack of disabled access at polling station

Barbara Ross SUS-161005-114132001
Barbara Ross SUS-161005-114132001

A pensioner was unable to cast her vote inside her local polling station in Rye due to a lack of disabled access.

Wheelchair-bound Barbara Ross, 66, of Pottingfield Road, had to wait outside in public as staff at Badger Gate polling station brought out her polling slip and a ballot box.

Barbara wanted to cast her vote in this year’s police and crime commissioner elections.

She said: “It was a blatant show of discrimination against disabled people. There is disabled access from inside the building but the only access outside involved using a step.”

Barbara wrote to Rother District Council to complain and received a letter on Saturday (May 7) offering an apology and a promise to investigate.

She added: “I asked for reassurance that I’d be able to vote in the EU referendum in June.

“Having my ballot paper brought outside to me did serve its purpose but the whole idea of voting at a polling station is that it’s supposed to be private.

“There were three staff running around like headless chickens after I asked how was I to get inside.

“So they brought out the ballot box and paper. I was less than impressed because I couldn’t vote in private.

“Rye is horrendous for disabled people and access. You can’t get into half of the shops.”

Malcolm Johnston, executive director of resources at Rother District Council, said: “Our priority on polling day is to ensure that every eligible resident has the opportunity to cast their vote and, while the situation was not ideal, this was achieved. We appreciate the resident’s concerns, but there are extremely limited options for polling stations in this part of Rye.

“Our election team worked extremely hard to ensure that people living in the Tilling Green area of the town did not have to travel far to take part in Thursday’s elections, and will be looking into the most appropriate options for polling stations for the referendum on June 23.”

Five candidates stood for Sussex police and crime commissioner with the Conservative party’s Katy Bourne being re-elected following a second count. She was first elected in 2012.

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