Nottingham refuses school use for elections

Nottingham City Council has announced that no schools in the city will close to become polling stations at December’s General Election.

Around a decade ago, most schools in Nottingham like elsewhere would close for elections, because Returning Officers have the power to require a school to be used free of charge at any election. However, the council is concerned about the disruption and learning hours lost through closure or partial closure of schools and has since implemented a policy not to use schools as polling places, if an alternative is available within the polling district.

Nottingham City Council is now using just ten school premises as polling stations out of 129 venues, with eight remaining fully open and only two having to close their nursery provision. Plans are in place for this to reduce further following the General Election on 12 December. As well as using alternative venues, staff have worked with headteachers to find ways of using their premises imaginatively, which would allow access for voters but also meet all safeguarding requirements, including using community rooms, sports halls and nurseries.  

Sally Longford, deputy leader of the council, said: “Many councils still use schools as polling stations as it is a simple solution, but a few years ago we started looking at how we could reduce our reliance on schools. We wanted to ensure that learning days were not lost and that elections did not negatively impact on school staff, students and families. Our staff have worked with headteachers to find alternative ways to hold elections that don’t impact so significantly on schools, and it’s brilliant that we are probably one of the first councils where no schools will close for the General Election.”