Apologies for the inconvenience

Please can I take the opportunity to respond to the letter from Mr Barron (News Guardian, May 29), in relation to access to polling stations.

As a council we take our duty to facilitate an effective democratic process for all our electorate very seriously.

This includes regularly reviewing our polling station network, using feedback from both the public and councillors, and considering whether there are improvements that can be made.

Our schools are such an important part of the local community and generally have both good access and parking provision on site, so we do value them as polling stations and will continue to work closely with our schools to ensure that continues.

However, one of the issues we also must take on board is the need to minimise disruption to children and young people’s learning as far as possible when elections fall during term-time.

That does mean in some circumstances polling stations will be held in schools where lessons are continuing.

Our headteachers are extremely helpful in making this happen in a way that allows both uses of the building to continue effectively.

Schools are provided with advice and we do assess all venues for access by those with mobility problems.

On the day of the vote, we do aim to ensure there is adequate signposting of the polling station to prevent the difficulties Mr Barron has highlighted.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind residents that postal votes are available to anyone who would find this method of voting more convenient.

Anyone who is interested in a postal vote should contact electoral services on (0191) 643 2270 or email elections@northtyneside.gov.uk for an application form.

We apologise to Mr Barron for any inconvenience and we are pleased that he found our polling staff helpful in dealing with the difficulties he experienced.

Vivienne Geary

Returning Officer