Polling station venue changed days before election

Glengormley Methodist Church. Pic by Google.
Glengormley Methodist Church. Pic by Google.

Voters in the Ballyclare Road area of Glengormley will be directed to a new polling station after the venue listed on electoral correspondence was changed.

Polling cards sent to residents in the region listed the Light and Life Free Methodist Church as the area’s polling station.

However, due to an issue surrounding insurance for the facility, the Electoral Office has now announced that Glengormley Methodist Church will serve as the polling station.

In a statement issued to the Times, the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland, Virginia McVea, said: “Following initial indication that the church would be made available, I am afraid that the church insisted upon insurance agreements that the Electoral Office does not have legal authority to provide.

“Being unable to give the church what they said they had to have provided under their own governance arrangements in order to open the church, it was with great regret that the Electoral Office was forced to move the polling station.”

Ms McVea added: “I understand that the Free Methodist Church was also unhappy not to be able to assist local voters as they would have wished. However, I am glad to advise that Glengormley Methodist, which locals will know is just on down the Ballyclare Road, is taking the three ballot boxes.

“We are extremely grateful to the congregation and leaders of Glengormley Methodist for providing this facility for the community at such short notice.

“The Electoral Office will provide signage and staffing on the Ballyclare Road to assist the electorate as much as possible.

“Letters will be going out to all those impacted by the change in polling station tonight informing them of the change.”

Commenting on the issue, a spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “The Electoral Office, who is responsible for the polling stations, has confirmed that those living in the Glengormley Urban DEA who wish to vote should attend the polling station at Glengormley Methodist Church, 19 Glencairn Drive.

“Please note, the venue originally listed on electoral cards, Light and Life Church, Ballyclare Road, is incorrect and the polling station at Glengormley Methodist Church should be attended instead. Light and Life Church is not a polling station.

“Council will continue to raise awareness of this updated information through our social media channels and website.”

DUP candidate for Glengormley Urban, Phillip Brett, has voiced concerns about the late change of venue.

The outgoing councillor said: “The lateness of this polling station change is very disappointing. It impacts nearly 3,000 voters.

“The Electoral Office will need to ensure a very high level of staffing and signage to ensure those arriving at the polling station advertised on their polling card are directed to the Methodist Church.

“We are proving transport to anyone who needs it to ensure this late change does not impact on those wanting to vote.”