Cornwall Council’s wibbly-wobbly polling booths

Cornwall Council is to be congratulated for trying to save taxpayers’ money during the election campaign - but they have gone about it in such a cack-handed way it’s ended up costing more!

Last year, for the European Elections, Cornwall Council promised a polling booth revolution. "We have been looking at ways to make elections more affordable, eco-friendly and manageable for our staff," said the Council’s Deputy Elections Manager. "One of the areas we have been investigating is the provision of polling booths. Both the USA and Australia use cardboard booths and we wanted to see if this would work in Cornwall."

The goal was worthy with the new cardboard booths estimated to cost £15 each, against £85 plus VAT for conventional timber booths. Unfortunately, the Council decided to get involved with the design themselves, in collaboration with Exeter architects.

"We wanted something a bit different, looked funky, was lightweight, fitted into the back of a car," said the Manager, "was simple to put together, and was strong, robust and appropriate for both able and disabled voters."

The result , however, was a wibbly-wobbly cardboard booth that kept falling over and afforded little privacy for voters. Or, as the Minutes of Cornwall Council put it, revealed this week: ‘"The cardboard polling booths which had been trialled previously simply did not work due to the issues with their privacy and stability." The cost of the trial was over £11,000 and the Council has had to go back to using conventional booths for next week’s voting.

Tim Newark, South West TaxPayers’ Alliance

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