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Sunday, 26 January

Could The Weather Turn As Slippery As Our Politicians?

Don’t let the bad weather stand in the way of the vote

With the election fast approaching, what's the worst that could happen for those responsible for keeping the polling booths open on the big day?

Well, the weather could turn nasty...the forecast at the moment is for rain and more rain, with Yellow warnings in place for Tuesday December 10 from Manchester up to the Scottish Isles.

 

Snow

Scotland could face flooding and high winds will be a danger on the road. In the Highlands, snow is likely on Wedneday.

 

A gritter’s perspective

The team at De-ice, one of the UK’s longest established winter gritting and snow clearance specialists, have offered some  guidance on how to tackle bad weather if it appears on the day - and how to tackle bad weather at any time over the winter months.

Vicky Lopez, founder and director, writes - we've seen bitterness and cold between parties but I don't think it will snow on election day but I am sure councils have thought about keeping polling stations open should bad weather strike. These are the types of plans local authorities, shopping centre managers and facilities managers in various building types have to consider throughout the winter - or more to the point long before the winter sets in. Advance planning in my book is always of paramount importance.

We make our living from a gritting service. Emergency, unplanned projects will ultimately have a premium price - and that's should we be able to help. When the weather turns severe, we are out looking after our pre-planned customers - sometimes it is so severe, we don't have any spare capacity, although we always try to leave something in hand.

 

Bad start

With challenges ranging from getting polling cards counted and transported during bad weather and darkness, to struggles finding suitable last-minute polling stations, the first December General Election in almost a century has already brought some new logistical considerations.

Turnout for the summer 2017 election was high at 68.8% - there is already concern that the turnout could be lower.

 

Routes

Councils should already have checked that routes to polling stations have a plan for gritting even if it is not required on the day, especially for vulnerable or remote communities to make sure best and worst case scenarios have been considered.

It would be nice, at this early stage of the winter to see more education and information sharing on driving in winter conditions as well as safe routes to take during potential bad weather.

I hope all municipal grit bins have been checked to ensure they have been filled - but given cutbacks and late sourcing of grit, shortages may already be in the pipeline.

 

Polling stations

It is important for those running polling stations to assess and review all entrances to their site, as well as parking areas if relevant, for accessibility and safety. It’s not all about expensive or professional help but those responsible for sites should make sure enough grit is available to treat at-risk areas. This task has to be clearly delegated if the temperature drops.

Ensure clear signage is prepared to show routes into the polling station. Remember the elderly and voters with visible or invisible, disabilities may need extra help or assistance.

Many polling stations may be schools, town halls, community centres or temporary buildings, which hopefully have winter maintenance plans in place to protect themselves already. It is not too late to engage with them now so it is clear what needs to be done - including making contact with those covering newer or smaller polling stations that might need some advice. If anyone slips or hurts themselves on site trying to vote, they may find themselves liable.

 

Voters

If the weather takes a turn for the worse, voters should bear in mind the following to track the weather forecast and be prepared and to be prepared to help neighbours get to where they want to be. If it looks like there will be snow and ice try to plan for extra travel time, whether you will be driving, using public transport, walking or cycling to the polling station. Accidents happen when people are stressed and hurried.

Don’t let the bad weather stand in the way of the vote!

Below, the weather forecast from the Met Office from the afternoon of Monday December 9.

 

 

 

 

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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