'X' Marks the Spot for Whitburn Referendum
Residents of Whitburn are set to go to the polls next week to vote on a neighbourhood plan for their area.
Neighbourhood planning enables communities to help shape development and growth in their local areas by giving local people the chance to have their say on where new homes, offices, transport and other community infrastructure could be built in the future.
A referendum on the Whitburn Neighbourhood Plan is taking place on Thursday 4 August 2022.
The referendum is run in the same way as a local election. However, residents will be asked whether they want South Tyneside Council to use the neighbourhood plan for Whitburn to help decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area. Voters will be able to mark the ballot paper with a cross (X) in the 'Yes' or 'No' box.
Residents can vote in person at the polling station shown on their poll card. Those eligible to vote at the polling station will have received their poll card confirming this. The polling stations will be open between 7am and 10pm on Thursday 4 August.
Residents with a postal vote are urged to complete and return their postal ballots as soon as possible. Those who have not had time to post it before polling day, can still hand it in at their local polling station on Thursday 4 August. Postal votes that arrive after 10pm will not be counted.
Jonathan Tew, Counting Officer at the referendum, said: "Those living in the Whitburn neighbourhood area will be heading to the polling station on Thursday 4 August. The referendum is an opportunity for them to make their voices heard on how local planning matters will be determined in the future.
"It is important that those residents in the neighbourhood area check the information on their polling cards or postal votes.
"Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 4 August. Voters who have opted to vote by post must return their postal ballot pack by 10pm. However, they can hand it in at the local polling station if they don't have time to return it by post.
"We would encourage people to consider the information and guidance available about the voting process beforehand, so they know what to do on the day."
What voters need to know before the referendum:-
- Vote in time:
- The polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 4 August. (Voters had to have applied to register to vote by Tuesday 19 July in order to be able to vote on the day.)
- Polling cards have been sent to the addresses of registered voters in the neighbourhood area. The cards give details of the location of the polling station.
- Plan when to cast your vote and leave plenty of time before the 10pm deadline. Those who arrive at the polling station after 10pm will miss their chance to take part.
- Postal voting:
- Make sure postal votes are returned by 10pm on Thursday 4 August. (Voters had to have applied to vote by post by Wednesday 20 July in order to be able to vote on the day.)
- Voters should have received their postal vote by Friday 29 July.
- Those who have not had time to post it before the referendum, can hand it in at the polling station. Postal votes that arrive after 10pm on Thursday 4 August will not be counted.
- Proxy voting:
- If you have appointed a proxy, then they need to make sure they are able to vote at your polling station on your behalf;
- If you suddenly become unable to vote in person, due to a medical emergency or because your occupation, service or employment means you cannot go to the polling station, and you only become aware of that fact after the deadline, then you may be entitled to appoint an emergency proxy;
- You can apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on the day of the referendum. Contact South Tyneside Council's Elections Team direct about this, on (0191) 424 7230.
- What to take:
- You can take the poll card with you to show polling station staff when you arrive. They will still ask for you to confirm your name and address. The staff will not take your card from you. Please take it home and dispose of it securely. If you don't have your poll card with you, just tell the polling station staff your name and your address and they can check whether you are on the electoral register.
- Social media:
- Social media is a great way to let friends and family know you have voted.
- Remember, pictures of you before you go into or, after you leave the polling station are great to use on social media posts, but don't take a picture of yourself inside the polling station as if you post this it could be a breach of the law.
- How to fill in the ballot paper:
- The staff at the polling station will give you a ballot paper.
- Staff will be on hand at the polling station to provide advice on the voting process;
- Those who are disabled can ask the Presiding Officer for help and they can mark the ballot papers for you. You can also ask someone else to help (e.g. a close relative, friend or support worker, who is an eligible elector);
- Those who have a visual impairment can ask for a large print copy of the ballot paper, a special voting device that allows them to vote on their own in secret, or a magnifying glass, or they can use a magnifying app on their own mobile phone;
- Take your ballot paper into a polling booth so that no one can see how you vote. Read the ballot paper carefully. It will tell you how to cast your vote.
- Mark the ballot paper according to the instructions. Do not write anything else on the paper or your vote may not be counted;
- People are encouraged to bring their own pen or pencil to mark the ballot paper, but clean pencils will also be available;
- If you make a mistake on a ballot paper, don't worry. So long as you haven't already put it in the ballot box, just let the polling station staff know and they can issue you with a replacement ballot paper;
- Fold your completed ballot paper in half and pop it in the ballot box - and that's it done!
Around 4,318 people are entitled to vote in the referendum on the Whitburn Neighbourhood Plan, with around 1,690 of those residents registered to vote by post.
If more people vote 'Yes' than 'No' in the referendum, then South Tyneside Council will use the Neighbourhood Plan to help decide planning applications in the Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum area.
If more people vote 'No', then planning applications will continue to be decided using the policies in the various documents that comprise the Development Plan for South Tyneside.
For further information about the referendum visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk or contact the Elections Office on (0191) 424 7230, email firstname.lastname@example.org