Thursday, May 05, 2011

Polling Station Palaver

Fun and games today at the polling station - I've just sent this email to both the local council and the Electoral Commission - locations changed to protect the innocent...

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to bring to your attention a situation that arose when I tried to vote in the above election this morning, which I feel was unsatisfactorily resolved and which needs to be rectified for future elections.

My name is Paul Waring - my full postal address is [xxxxxxxxxxx].  I have lived at this address with my wife for the past ten years or so.

I went to vote this morning at the polling station at [the local school] (which is approximately 100 yards away from my front door), as I have at every election for the past ten years.  This time, however, upon inspecting my Poll Card, the presiding officer advised me that I was not on his list, and that I ought to be voting at [another school] - some five miles away.  Indeed, my poll card did declare that my polling station was [the other school].  I had not thought to check this - why would I, given my previous voting experience?

The Presiding Officer kindly agreed to check by telephone with some higher authority whether an error had been made, clearly pointing out that my address placed me firmly within [the local] Ward, rather than the ['not so local'] Ward, and the relative distance from my house to the two polling stations.  Notwithstanding this, he was advised that I would not be able to vote locally but would have to go five miles away to vote.  He did advise me that one at least of my next door neighbours was still down to vote locally and suggested that there had been a boundary re-drawing that effectively bisected my property and next door.

Despite the implausibility of this argument, I happily accepted that this was the advice he had been given and he had to abide by it.  I therefore drove the five miles and regaled the attending officers there with my tale of woe.  They confirmed that I was indeed on their list, and so I cast my votes (both Council and AV) there.

However later today I was able to check the Ward boundaries and it is quite clear that my house is firmly within [the local] Ward and nowhere near any boundary with [the other] Ward.

I am therefore disappointed, and not a little concerned, that I have voted in a ward that I do not live in, for candidates who will not be able to represent me.  Furthermore, my preferred candidate in [the local] Ward has been deprived of my vote.

Further inspection of my Poll card indicates that my address omits the village name.  This is not unusual - [my local town] is indeed part of my postal address and in any event, the house number and post code alone would be sufficient to indicate exactly where I live.  However I suspect that - for whatever reason - the sole reference to [my local town] in my address has - incorrectly - been the prime determinant of where I should vote.  There is a [xxxxxx Street] in [my local town], and for all I know, there is a number [xxx] as well - but I don't live there.

For completeness, the 'Number on Register' recorded on the Poll card is [xxxxxxx].

If indeed the omission of the my village name from my address is the cause of this error - then I would hazard a guess that I am not the only one affected in this way.  I would hope, however, that the number of addresses affected would not be sufficient to have a material effect on the outcome of the election.

In any event, what is done is done, as far as this election is concerned.  I would be grateful however if you could investigate, and ensure that my details are corrected so that the same issue does not arise in future elections.

Kind regards
I shall report back with their responses...

I was also going to copy the candidate who has been deprived of my vote, just for devilment like, but sadly can't locate an email address.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Paul's rules for a happy gig-going experience

These rules are my distillation of my experiences of gig-going as a fiftysomething who is now attending far more gigs than he used to, egged on admittedly by a music-mad son who likes his dad to buy his tickets for him...
1. Choose your venue with care. Preferably small, preferably standing. Standing because...
2. If your neighbours are annoying you, you can move. Taking the moral high ground and standing your ground (and fuming) is counterproductive. Avoid the braying masses by standing elsewhere. Preferably...
3. Stand at the barrier. Not centre stage, but well off to the left or right. This is ideal because:
3a. You will be stood next to the speakers. It will be loud, so you will not be able to hear the fuckwits.
3b. Off to the side, you avoid the jumping, moshing, crowdsurfing fuckwits.
3c. You will have an ace view of the action. And you will have something solid to lean on.
3d. You will be at the front - with the fans. Who are less likely to talk, and more likely to focus on the performers.
4. Don't drink. You WILL need to go to the loo, and you WILL lose your place. And have to stand with the fuckwits.
5. Choose your act with care. There are some performers who are MADE to be heard live. Focus on them.
6. At festivals - all the above rules apply, especially the 'venue' rules. It is a fact that a small band on a small stage is ALWAYS a better experience than the biggest band in the world on the Pyramid. If you want to see U2 or Beyonce at Glastonbury - set your Sky+ before you go and head off to the Park or the Acoustic tent instead.