Boughton couple say polling station ramp denied them a vote


Neil Bellis

A BOUGHTON constituent is claiming she and her partner were unable to vote in Thursday’s by-election as there was no proper disabled access at the polling station.

Nora Dobbs, of Francis Street, Newtown, Chester, says she went to vote in the by-election at the polling station at the Westminister Hotel on City Road but she couldn’t as the wooden ramp which staff provided for her partner’s electric wheelchair was “too steep” and looked “like one you roll barrels of beer down”.

Mrs Dobbs also claims when she and partner Fred Totty, refused to go up the ramp polling station staff offered to bring out voting forms which she again refused as she “didn’t want to vote in the street”.

She said: “We went out to vote at six o’clock at night. How many other people couldn’t get up the ramp?

“I think where they showed us was where they put the barrels of beer in because there were steps in the middle of the wooden ramp.

“A scooter may have got up it but there was no chance in a wheelchair, it was too steep. My partner is paralysed and they offered to carry him up and when we said ‘no’ they said they would bring the papers outside!

“I’m not going to vote in the street. It beggars belief.

“We are in our 70s and we we have never missed a vote until now. It’s so disappointing when you are disabled.

“I don’t know why the vote couldn’t have been held at the Ebenezer Church as it used to. There was good access to that.

“I know we can do a postal vote but we like to go and vote.”

Council spokesman Ian Callister said the Ebenezer Church was unavailable this time round.

He said: “The church was unavailable this time and we have used the Westminister Hotel frequently for public and business meetings.

“I’ve spoken to the electoral officer concerned and it appears that she even offered to bring the ballot box out of the hotel to the couple so they could vote – perfectly permissible under the circumstances.

“Furthermore, the ramp provided by the hotel was Disability Discrimination Act compliant and had been used quite happily by other electors.”

No one from the hotel was available for comment although the Leader understands a permenant ramp or lift could not be put in place at the hotel as it is a Grade II listed building.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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