Poll protest in Ribble Valley’s ‘divided village’

voting
voting

A businessman aims to make a polling station protest tomorrow in Ribble Valley’s “divided village”.

Joe Drachenberg says bungled boundary changes 40 years ago, which split the West Riding village between Lancashire and Yorkshire, left many voters in Tosside unable to vote in parish council elections for Bolton-by-Bowland, Gisburn Forest and Sawley, one of Ribble Valley’s 40 parish councils.

“There are a few us who intend to turn up at the polling station and say we want to vote,” said Mr Drachenberg, who lives at The Old Vicarage Tea Room, his restaurant business on the Yorkshire side.

“We can only get turned away, but it’s about time something was done about this boundary.”

There are three candidates – Keith Dixon, Hayden Fortune and Paul Wilson – contesting two vacant seats in the parish council’s Gisburn Forest ward.

Polling takes place in the showpiece modern Tosside Community Hall, which ironically is on the Yorkshire side of the boundary.

Tosside has been claimed to be England’s smallest village, with about 100 families living there, and the county boundary runs down the main village road.

To add to the confusion, part of the village is in the Ribble Valley parliamentary constituency, voting at Bolton-by-Bowland in the General Election, and part is in Craven, voting at Wigglesworth.

Mr Drachenberg, who has lived in Tosside for 35 years and is a trustee of the community hall, added: “There are four other trustees along with myself living more or less next door to the community hall, and we all want a say in who goes on the parish council.

“There are people living three or miles away who can vote, yet we can’t because we’re on the wrong side of the boundary.

“I can literally see the polling desk from my window, but I can’t vote there. It’s ridiculous. You couldn’t make it up.”