At the recent local elections in Rothwell there was a serious problem as Leeds City Council officers wrongly placed hundreds of voters into the wrong polling districts. This meant hundreds of voters were unable to go to their normal polling station at Haigh Road Community Centre, but instead had to vote at Victoria Primary School. The streets affected were:
Castle Lodge Gardens
Castle Lodge Avenue
Castle Lodge Mews
Castle Lodge Way
Castle Lodge Garth
Local councillors were only told about the mistake the day before the election by which time it was too late to do anything about it.
This was a very serious mistake by council officers that jeopardised people’s democratic right to vote. It is totally unacceptable as could have even resulted in many people not voting who wanted to and this is obviously a serious hindrance to democracy. It was especially difficult for older people and those with mobility issues and no private transport as Victoria school is tucked away in the corner of Wood Lane estate so very difficult to both find and get to, with no direct public transport link for many of these residents. I can understand how frustrating it was for people who had to actually pass their usual polling station at Haigh Road community centre to travel to the Victoria school polling station.
Local Labour Party volunteers did what they could to help by visiting people on election day to explain where they could vote and to offer lifts to those who needed them.
I’ve written to Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council, and also the returning officer responsible for elections, asking that the council apologises to those residents in writing and that a public apology be made in the Rothwell Record for its mistake and reassures us that steps will be taken to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.