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Revealed - The unusual polling stations being used in Suffolk today

PUBLISHED: 14:29 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 23:21 02 May 2019

The White Horse pub at Beyton is acting as a polling station. Picture: PAULINE SUGGATE

The White Horse pub at Beyton is acting as a polling station. Picture: PAULINE SUGGATE

Archant

With the polls open for the 2019 local elections in Suffolk, plenty of voters will be heading down to their nearest polling station today.

Bury Town FC is also acting as a polling station this year. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILBury Town FC is also acting as a polling station this year. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

With the polls open for the 2019 local elections in Suffolk, plenty of voters will be heading down to their nearest polling station today.

And while churches, village halls, leisure centres and schools are among the common locations where votes can be cast, Suffolk has its fair share of unusual locations too.

Here's a brief rundown of some of the stations you won't see everywhere you go.

Pubs

Seventh Day Adventist Church  is being used as this year's polling station in Fornham Road, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILSeventh Day Adventist Church is being used as this year's polling station in Fornham Road, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

For those who like to enjoy a pre or post-polling pint, the villages of Great Waldingfield, Beyton and Beck Row can provide just that.

Great Waldingfield's White Horse Inn will be the spot for 278 voters, while the White Horse in Beyton is serving 491 people.

A spokesman from Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils said: “We always try to place polling stations in well-known locations at the heart of the community, allowing residents to vote within a reasonable distance of home and in rare cases, pubs are best suited to this role.”

The Rose and Crown in Beck Row meanwhile is the polling station for 1,911 members of the electorate. Cheers!

Nursing home

There's just one nursing home being used for the local elections this year – Foxearth Nursing Home in Saxtead.

It may be the place to poll for 262 voters, but we're assured there's no disruption to the day-to-day business, as a training room in the building is where people will be choosing their preferred candidates.

A council spokesman said its public consultation last year found the home to still be the most suitable place in the area.

Football Clubs

At weekends Bury Town football ground is filled with people – and today will be no different as it acts as a polling station for this year's local elections.

This year West Suffolk Council have had to look for other properties and facilities as the wards have changed for the creation of the new council.

One possible building was a windmill at Thelnetham which the council had on standby but that ward was uncontested. Instead they have stations in sports clubs and in various churches and community buildings.

Churches

It's not unusual for churches to be used as polling stations, but one particular church in Fornham, which dates back 104 years and is Grade II listed will be used for villagers to cast their votes today.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church is well known and is still fondly known as “The Tin Tabernacle” after being built as a railways mission hall and acting as one for more than 90 years.

Portable buildings

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There are three portable cabin-style buildings in use in West Suffolk this time around.

Scaltback Middle School in Newmarket has housed one to meet the needs of 1,301 voters, while more than 2,000 people can use the one for Mildenhall Queensway ward.

The remaining building is in Haverhill.

A West Suffolk Council spokesman said: “We use a range of buildings and facilities and are always looking for where polling stations could be and this can depend on availability, access issues and where in the ward they are.

“This year we have had to look for other properties and facilities as the wards have changed for the creation of the new council.

“One possible building was a windmill at Thelnetham which we had on standby but that ward was uncontested.

“We have stations in sports clubs, such as Bury Town Football Club and in various churches and community buildings.

“We make sure all our facilities are accessible or there is support in place to make sure everyone can vote. We would like to thank all organisations who have provided facilities for polling stations.”

But while there are still a few unorthodox stations this time around, changes from the 2018 review means some of the characterful polling spots in previous years have fallen by the wayside.

Finningham

Finningham's White Horse had previously set aside its back room for voters, but according to Mid Suffolk District Council's returning officer, “The polling station is cramped and contains a large pool table which is too heavy to move, the stepped access is not suitable for disabled access and all that separates the polling station from the pub is a curtain.”

Voters will instead use Cotton Village Hall for 2019.

Flowton

It's not unusual for churches to be used as polling stations, but St Mary's Church in Flowton was less than ideal as a result of the cold rooms.

The lack of a toilet also meant that polling station staff and volunteers had to strike an arrangement with a nearby house to use their facilities.

With only 90 people using that station, those voters will use Somersham Village Hall this year instead.

Pettaugh

Much like Flowton, Pettaugh in Mid Suffolk had a similar issue with cold facilities and a lack of toilets, requiring a similar arrangement with a nearby house.

Crowfield Village Hall is the new stop for the 148 electorate to have previously used the church.

Cretingham

Cretingham Golf Club had been used in previous years, but comments in the 2018 review of polling stations at East Suffolk Council said it was in a “busy golf club restaurant” and voters were “not separated from diners”.

Diners can enjoy an election-free lunch this time around though, as Monewden Village Hall replaces it.

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