People intending to submit a postal vote in the Highwoods by-election next month are being advised of alternative ways to do so, to avoid any potential delays from ongoing industrial action by Royal Mail staff.
Six candidates will be standing for the two seats in the Highwoods by-election taking place on Thursday, 8 December, which follows the resignations last month of long-serving independent councillors Gerard and Beverley Oxford.
Poll cards were dispatched on Wednesday 9 November and everyone who is registered to vote in the Highwoods by-election should receive a poll card in the coming days. The poll cards confirm the location of your polling station. You do not need to register again if you have received a poll card.
Anyone who is registered but unable to cast their vote at their polling station on Thursday, 8 December should apply for a postal vote by 5pm on Wednesday, 23 November, or a proxy vote by 5pm on Wednesday, 30 November.
Due to the scheduled Royal Mail strikes, additional ways to return postal votes have been arranged for anyone worried that their vote will not be received and counted in time.
You can, for example, ask someone to hand in a completed postal vote for you, at either of the two polling stations within the ward, between 7am and 10pm on polling day. The polling stations are at The Ark, Highwoods Methodist Church, Jack Andrews Drive, CO4 9FF and St John’s & Highwoods Community Centre, Highwoods Square, CO4 9SR.
As always, postal votes can also be handed into the Town Hall, Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.
For the Highwoods election, arrangements have also been made to allow postal votes to be returned to Highwoods Visitor Centre from Thursday, 1 December. On Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the centre will be open between 10am and 4pm. On Mondays, the centre will be open between 10am and 1pm. Please be aware, the centre will not be open on Tuesday, 6 December. The last day the centre will be open for submitting postal votes is Wednesday, 7 December, between 10am and 4pm. After this, all postal votes should be submitted to Colchester Town Hall or either one of the two polling stations on election day.
Pam Donnelly,Colchester Borough Council’s Chief Executive and Returning Officer for Elections, said: “I encourage all residents aged 18 and over to vote in the Highwoods by-election and have their say on prominent issues.
“Every vote counts, and it is important to make sure your details are up to date on the Register and that you are aware of the deadlines for registration, postal and proxy votes.
“We know many people will have concerns about the disruption to Royal Mail services caused by ongoing industrial action, which is why we have made alternative arrangements to enable postal votes to be submitted in time.
“Look out for your polling card and apply for a postal or proxy vote if you are not able to vote at a polling station. Details of all this and more is available on our website to help voters prepare.”
To help you prepare ahead of casting your votes, information about polling stations and the voting process is available at www.colchester.gov.uk/elections.