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pollingstation.pngThousands of voters in a key marginal seat have been left at a disadvantage after the Electoral Commission found that Northampton Borough Council failed to comply with its legal obligation to carry out a full review of polling districts and polling stations.

Labour’s Parliamentary candidate has criticised the Council for failing in its legal duties and called on it to provide enough polling stations for people to vote in the General Election.

The Electoral Commission gave the ruling after Sally Keeble made a formal complaint, backed by more than 30 people, under the Representation of the People Act, about the unequal distribution of polling stations across the constituency. In two wards there were over 3,150 people per polling station, while in nine other areas there were fewer than 1,000 people per polling station. In another ward over 2,400 people faced a difficult walk to a polling station.

She also complained last year on behalf of residents who found themselves locked out of a polling station in the European Elections: the polling station was in a building with a door entryphone system which was left unattended for a period of time.

The Electoral Commission said it asked the Council for its response to her complaints by March 25th - the Council only responded on April 1st.

In a letter to Sally Keeble yesterday the Commission said:

 “the Council has not complied with its legal obligation to carry out and complete a review within the period set out in legislation (1 October 2013 to 31 January 2015). Although the review process was started in August 2014, no decision was taken on the review by the relevant decision-making body in the Council. A review includes all the steps listed in Schedule A1 RPA 1983 including the making and publishing of a decision, supported by reasons…… From the information that has been supplied we do not believe that a review has been carried out and completed within the period required by law because no decision was taken by the relevant body."

The Electoral Commission has told the Council to complete a review as soon as possible – taking into account all the representations made about the polling arrangements in the constituency. Because of the Council’s failure to carry out a review, the Electoral Commission said it could not make a decision on the substance of the appeal.

Sally Keeble said: “It's disgraceful that the Council has failed to comply with its legal duties in such a sensitive area. It repeatedly brushed off concerns about the polling stations. Meanwhile it had failed even to carry out the review as required by law. Now people in Northampton North are left at a disadvantage: the Electoral Commission cannot even make a decision on their complaints.

“It also begs the question about who made the decisions about the polling stations. It seems from the Electoral Commission’s findings that the decisions were not made by the relevant council body.

“The Council needs to deal urgently with this issue, complete the review and provide a proper distribution of polling stations in time for people to vote in the General Election.”

 

Electoral Commission says Northampton Borough Council failed in its legal obligations over polling stations

Thousands of voters in a key marginal seat have been left at a disadvantage after the Electoral Commission found that Northampton Borough Council failed to comply with its legal obligation...

 sallystd.jpgThis Tory budget was about short term party political interests  -  not about the well-being of people here in Northampton.

Labour is committed to making sure people right across the country who work hard, look after their families and care about the community share in the economic growth. Our plans set out how we would do that.

The Tory budget was also deeply dishonest. The official Office for Budget Responsibility has said that there will have to be deep cuts. The budget will “mean “a much sharper squeeze on real spending in 2016/17 and 2017/18 than anything seen over the past five years" and “a sharp acceleration in the pace of implied real cuts to day-to-day spending on public services”.

Detailed Treasury figures show that people in higher income groups will benefit most from the tax cuts – by £185 a year.

However, the £1billion tax giveaway will have to be matched by deep cuts in the public services that many people rely on – the schools, hospitals, police, home care and other services.

It was significant that the Chancellor made no reference at all to the National Health Service in his speech -  despite the continuing crisis in care and high level of public concern. But he did manage to make a lot of jokes –  each one matched with a spending pledge – like the £1 million for Agincourt celebrations which he used to poke fun at the Labour leader.

Sally Keeble said: “People need to know what’s going to happen to public services – people who use the services as part of their day to day lives, and those who work for them.  The Chancellor shouldn’t be putting forward a budget that means there will be huge cuts without setting out what services will be lost.

“It’s also completely inappropriate to announce use of public money as a backdrop to his jokes – there were four measures announced, costing at least £80 million – that were accompanied by personalised jibes.

“Labour is setting out costed plans that offer people security for the future, while also dealing with the country’s budget deficit.  Labour also provides a way out of the low wage low skill economy that the Tories are creating.”

Labour’s programme includes:

  • Raising living standards by increasing the minimum wage to £8 an hour and 25 hours of free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Saving and transforming our NHS with a £2.5 billion a year Time to Care Fund which will pay for 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and a guarantee of cancer tests in one week.
  • Cutting business rates for 1.5 million small business properties and getting 200,000 new homes built a year.
  • Balancing the books in a fair way by reversing the Tory tax cut for millionaires.
  • A tax cut for 24 million working people through a lower 10p starting rate of tax.
  • And guaranteeing an apprenticeship for every school leaver who gets the basic grades and cutting tuition fees to £6,000.

Tory budget puts party political interests above interests of working families

 This Tory budget was about short term party political interests  -  not about the well-being of people here in Northampton.

alison200.jpgChildren are way out in front as the best thing in women's lives in a survey by Sally Keeble in Blackthorn to mark International Women's Day. And ending child poverty was the number one thing that they wanted from a Labour Government.

The survey was followed by a visit by Labour's shadow minister for childcare, Alison McGovern MP, who went to Blackthorn Good Neighbour's Nursery to talk about childcare issues with Kathryn White of BGN and Elaine Pitteway of Northamptonshire Childminders Association.

Alison set out Labour's commitment to provide 25 hours a week free childcare for all three and four year old children with working parents.

And she discussed with Kathryn and Elaine the requirements for building up children's services in the future, including the need for good infrastructure, partnership working and sustainability. One of the key challenges for parents in Northampton is providing childcare for families with parents who work shifts, and who need more flexible services.

Sally and her team will be out talking to mothers again in the run-up to Mothers Day this Sunday - March 15th. You can take the Women's Day survey here.

Tthe main problems identified by women in the survey were low wages, benefit cuts and finding a job, and the priorities for a Labour government, after ending child poverty, were taking action to stop domestic violence and increasing the minimum wage.

"My children are the best thing in my life" say Blackthorn women

Children are way out in front as the best thing in women's lives in a survey by Sally Keeble in Blackthorn to mark International Women's Day. And ending child poverty was...

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