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Angry Hackney citizens lost right to vote because polling station had been demolished

PUBLISHED: 14:59 28 May 2014

Counting took place in the Brittania Leisure Centre. Photo by Gary Manhine, Hackney Council.

Counting took place in the Brittania Leisure Centre. Photo by Gary Manhine, Hackney Council.

Gary Manhine: 07989 418 474 gary@manhinephoto.co.uk

Hackney citizens say they lost their right to vote last Thursday because their listed polling station had been demolished.

Counting took place in the Brittania Leisure Centre. Photo by Gary Manhine, Hackney Council.Counting took place in the Brittania Leisure Centre. Photo by Gary Manhine, Hackney Council.

Peter Jansson and his wife turned up in plenty of time – 40 minutes before the polling station listed on their cards in Hindley Road on the Pembury Estate, Lower Clapton, was due to close.

However, when they arrived they found the building had already been knocked down in the Pembury Circus regeneration project and there were no signs telling them where to go instead.

They embarked on a wild goose chase, travelling as far as another polling station in Dalston Lane where they were turned away because they were not registered there, but were told the polling station they needed was close by their starting point.

Arrogant

Mr Jansson, who lives in Crandale House in Pembury Road, said: “We saw another six adults who were also running around, someone phoned their mother to find out where to go, another woman was there who had rushed from work and there was just 10 minutes to go.

“We were literally running around Clarence Road like headless chickens looking for any kind of official looking building.”

After walking down every side street, asking people in shops and bars if they could help, they eventually found the polling station in a small building tucked away in a corner of the Pembury Estate at just past the 10pm voting deadline – and were refused entry to cast their votes.

“We really tried, we were just a few seconds too late, but the people just asked us why we could not get there any earlier as they had been open all day and now had to close,” said Mr Jansson, an engineering manager.

“No one was apologetic, their excuse was that they had put out one sheet of A4 paper but it was raining and it fell down.

“That’s the most frustrating part of it, when you show up and you find it. We weren’t 20 minutes late, but literally one minute 39 seconds and they are completely arrogant about it, there was no ‘sorry’.”

Mr Jansson went on: “If there had been signs it would have taken two or three minutes to walk there.

“I was brought up thinking that it is important to vote no matter what, but I find the whole experience an outrage and I can understand why people don’t bother.”

A Hackney Council spokesman claimed registered voters were sent a map showing the location of the temporary buildings but would look at signage if the polling station was used again in future.

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