Unusual polling stations: pubs, hair salons and a historic windmill
Country pubs, a historic windmill and an inner-city hair salon are some of the more unusual locations being used as polling stations on Thursday.
Voters in some constituencies will be able to purchase a pint, a haircut, or a guided tour of a 19th-century windmill in the same venue as exercising their democratic right.
This year’s General Election is the first to be held in December for almost a century, and an eclectic mix of venues are preparing to open their doors to the UK electorate.
The Granary at Thelnetham Windmill site will be a General Election polling station for the first time this year, after hosting the local elections in May.
Constituents in West Suffolk, which has been represented by Health Secretary Matt Hancock since 2010, will head to the events building beside a 200-year-old working windmill.
Chris Mills, custodian of the site, said he grinds flour at the mill using traditional methods and offers guided tours.
Mr Mills, 75, who will also be a polling clerk at another station on Thursday, said: “I’m politically active and I’m looking forward to it, but I’m very concerned about the outcome.
“The different parties are teaming up to be politically tactical and that could have a detrimental effect on the party I am going to vote for.”
Another venue being used as a polling station this year is The White Horse pub in Petersfield, Hampshire, which has no signage and is known locally as The Pub With No Name.
Landlord Elizabeth Fogg, 55, from Surrey, said the pub has been used as a polling station for the East Hampshire constituency, last represented by Tory former cabinet minister Damian Hinds, before, and she is expecting almost 100 voters.
Ms Fogg, who has been the landlord for 10 years, said: “It’s quite interesting, people come in and talk to you about how nice it is to have it in a pub.
“It’s different, you can have a drink and a packet of crisps while you’re here.
“But I think people will vote in this election regardless – it’s an important one.”
Another landlord, Reintr Heckem, is preparing for members of the Henley constituency to vote at his pub, Fox & Hounds, in Watlington, Oxfordshire.
Mr Heckem, a German national, said issues in the upcoming election were of particular importance to him.
He told the PA news agency: “What happens in this next election is very important for me.
“It’s important to have polling stations, but it’s very strange for me because I’m the landlord, but I’m German and I’m not allowed to vote.
“I have to apply for a dual nationality to vote, but I don’t want to give up my German passport.”
Henley has been a Conservative seat for more than a century, and John Howell has represented the area since 2008.
A polling station for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle constituency, which was one of the highest Leave-voting areas in the 2016 Brexit referendum, will be a hair salon.
Amy Usher-Goldsmith has been running Ush Hair salon for 12 years and said she is expecting hundreds of people to turn up on Thursday.
Ms Usher-Goldsmith, 36, from Hull, is planning to reserve the front of the salon for voters while attending to clients in a back room.
She said: “I think it’s important to do for the local community and it’s good publicity for the salon.”
The Yorkshire constituency was created in 1997, and Labour’s Emma Hardy has held the seat since then.
Ms Hardy is running for re-election against Brexit Party candidate and former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry.
Other unusual polling stations this year include beauty supply store The Body Shop’s UK headquarters in Littlehampton, Sussex, The Ace Launderette in Oxford, and a chip shop called Hank Marvin in Narberth, Pembrokeshire.
Polling station locations are decided by returning officers from the Electoral Commission, who also announce the result.