School will stay as polling station against the wishes of teachers and parents

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A headteacher is ‘extremely disappointed’ councillors voted to keep using her school as a polling station forcing it to close on election days.

Crawley Borough Council general purposes committee met last Wednesday (November 27) to vote on a series of changes to the town’s polling stations, including The Brook School, which is one of two in Maidenbower. Parents and teachers wanted the council to look at other options for election days to avoid its closure.

Conservative ward members Cllr Ken Trussell and Lenny Walker, and the town’s MP Henry Smith, were not in favour of reducing the number of polling stations in the neighbourhood to one.

Mr Smith said: “I would caution against combining all polling for Maidenbower (LHA and LHB districts) at the Community Centre off Harvest Road as I believe this would lead to a reduction in turnout from the south of the ward, given the distances involved.

“Continuing to use part of the school, without overall closure or a temporary structure, as used earlier this year I recall, would be preferable.”

The temporary building used in May allowed the school to be open, but the committee heard there were complaints from residents about access and privacy.

Headteacher Fi Dowley said: “They have decided this was too problematic and that the school building needs to be used. Therefore, we have to close. Our parents and school community voted unanimously for the school not to be used as a polling station.

“Our children will miss a day of education as a result of this decision.

“For our parents it has financial implications in trying to find child care or taking a day’s holiday.

“We are extremely disappointed with the decision and hope the council will re consider for future elections.”

A spokesman for the council said: “Members decided that The Brook School is the best location for a polling station in the southern part of Maidenbower.

“The temporary building used as a polling station this year was too small and had poor access. It would be prohibitively expensive to hire in a bigger building with adequate access.

“From 2015, we will be able to give the school enough notice of polling dates so it is able to arrange an inset day on polling day.”