Newspaper office polling station set to be only one of its kind in the country

VOTERS can mark down their X and pick up a copy of their favourite local newspaper in May in an arrangement believed to be the first of its kind.

Hastings Borough Council has approved the use of the Hastings Observer’s office in Telford Road, St Leonards as a polling station on May 22 for the European Parliament and local elections.

It will be the second time in as many years the office has been used as one of the three polling stations for the Ashdown ward. It is believed to be the only newspaper office used for such a purpose in the UK.

In May 2012 the Observer stepped in to help out after the original polling site at the Sussex Edwardian Hotel in Eisenhower Drive suddenly closed down just days before the election.

The acting returning officer for the borough Neil Dart proposed a number of changes in venues for the election.

These include the Hastings Observer instead of the hotel, the Hastings Centre instead of the Civil Services Sports Club and The Hastings Centre instead of Little Ridge Primary School.

Member of the Cabinet approved the move on Monday.

The Observer’s acting news and content editor Sol Buckner said: “We stepped in at the last minute in 2012 to help the council out. “And they liked our service so much they wanted to use us again.

“I believe we are the only newspaper office in the country that is used as a polling station.

“We are quite a prominent building in the town and easy to reach so hopefully it will inspire more people to come out and vote on the day.”

Kevin Boorman, spokesman for Hastings Borough Council, said: “We are also proposing that the building is used as a permanent polling station, not just for the 2014 elections.

“The main advantage of the Observer building is its location, visibility and good public transport links, together with parking area.

“We can’t comment as to whether the electorate preferred it as there were no comments raised either way after the 2012 election.

“Disability access is on a par with Sussex Edwardian Hotel but the Observer building is easier to get to, especially for those who rely on public transport.”

Councillors Finch, Daniel, Corrello, Gurney, Kramar and Martin will all step down at this year’s elections.