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POLLING STATIONS: Solihull’s more unusual venues

POLLING STATIONS: Solihull’s more unusual venues

Image: LDRS

A medieval meeting place, a woodland retreat and a typically English tea room are among the more usual Solihull venues to be used as polling stations.

The council has now confirmed the full list of places where people will be casting their ballot papers in next week’s local elections.

Even the most traditional choices will look rather different this year, with local authorities having to abide by social distancing rules and ensure other Covid precautions are in force.

Official government guidance says:

  • People must wear face coverings inside the station (unless they are exempt)
  • Hand sanitiser should be made available at the entrance/exit
  • Tape markings on the floor should be used to help people keep their distance, with a one-way system also in place.
  • Signs reminding people of the rules need to be posted around the venue
  • Voters are being encouraged to bring their own pencil/pen but a sanitised supply should be available for those who don’t
  • Venues should be “well ventilated” and common “touchpoints” should be cleaned regularly
  • Taking details for test and trace purposes is not a requirement.

While the various measures will mean all premises look rather different, some would stand out even in normal times.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) looks at some of the most intriguing places voting booths will be stationed on Thursday, May 6.

The Guild House, Knowle:

Unlike some corners of the country, no Solihull voter can boast they’ve put a cross in the box at a castle.

But one borough village does have a Middle Age polling station of its own, with The Guild House dating to the 1400s.

The timber-beamed building, with its striking stained glass windows, was centuries ago the headquarters for the influential Guild of St. Anne.

Tea Room,  Marston Green Recreation Ground:

A typically English setting to see democracy in action, The Pavilion is among nine venues being used in Bickenhill – one of Solihull’s largest wards by area.

Other parts of the country also use a local pub or two for polling purposes, although there are no current examples in Solihull.

Catherine de Barnes Village Hall:

A common choice for many local authorities, alongside schools and churches, is the ubiquitous village hall.

But this attractive red-brick building, with its miniature bell tower, has the distinction of being, at one time or other, all three.

Built in the 1870s by a prominent landowner, it was originally intended as both a place of education and a village chapel. It had been used as a schoolhouse until around a century later.

The Loft Above Asda:

Perhaps the perfect choice for those who want to combine a supermarket shop with going to vote.

This area, in Chelmsley Wood town centre, is among the more modern buildings called into service.

1st Solihull Scout Group, Mill Pool Woods:

A leafy Lode Lane location in Lyndon ward with a long and busy history.

As its name suggests the wooded area was, in times gone by, home to a working mill.

More recently it is an ideal base for a local scout troupe, whose premises will be used for the election.

Ye Olde Knowle Bowling Club:

The crisp green lawns are, despite the club’s name, actually in neighbouring Dorridge. And the “modern clubhouse” isn’t actually all that old.

It is situated in one of Solihull’s more rural wards, where Hockley Heath Recreation Ground is also called into service.

A full list of polling stations for Solihull’s 17 wards is available here -

Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter

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