No schools in Nottingham City will close to become polling stations at the General Election, in a pioneering move by the City Council to prevent an impact on children’s learning.
Around a decade ago, most schools in Nottingham like elsewhere would close for elections, because Returning Officers have the power to require a school to be used free of charge at any election.
But the council was concerned about the disruption and learning hours lost through closure or partial closure of schools and began implementing a policy not to use schools as polling places, if an alternative is available within the polling district.
As well as using alternative venues Electoral Services and Education staff have worked with headteachers to find ways of using their premises imaginatively, which would allow access for voters but also meet all safeguarding requirements, including using community rooms, sports halls and nurseries.
Although it has been challenging this means that Nottingham City Council is now using just ten school premises as polling stations out of 129 venues, with eight remaining fully open and only two having to close their nursery provision. Plans are in place for this to reduce further following the General Election on December 12th.
City Council Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Democratic Services, Cllr Sally Longford, said: “Many councils still use schools as polling stations as it is a simple solution, but a few years ago we started looking at how we could reduce our reliance on schools. We wanted to ensure that learning days were not lost and that elections did not negatively impact on school staff, students and families.”
“Our staff have worked with headteachers to find alternative ways to hold elections that don’t impact so significantly on schools, and it’s brilliant that we are probably one of the first councils where no schools will close for the General Election.”
Residents eligible to vote are reminded to make sure they are registered by November 26th. If they are already registered, there’s no need to re-register to vote in the General Election – if they are unsure or want more information they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 876 4111. Registering to vote can be done online here: https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/your-council/voting-elections/register-to-vote/