The spring sunshine tempted several local residents to cast their votes early as polls opened at 07:00 this morning for today’s Welsh Assembly and Police & Crime Commissioner elections.
No fewer than 71 candidates and a dozen different political parties are vying for the support of the voters of Penarth in today’s electoral contests. In effect two different Assembly elections are taking place – for Cardiff South and Penarth and for South Wales Central and there is a third contest to elect a South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.
One of the first three voters to call at the now-renovated Byrd Crescent Community Centre polling station was local resident – and Conservative Assembly candidate – Ben Gray who is contesting the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency seat.
At the controversial Cosmeston County Park Polling station – being used today for only the second time – the main pathway to the polling station was unhelpfully sealed-off with safety barriers and red tape – forcing voters to take a detour to reach the Ranger’s office where the booths had been set up.
The premises were criticised in 2015 for being too small and cramped – and lacking in privacy. There seemed to be not much more space available this time around.
Other polling stations across the town also seemed busy – but there’s been no sign so far today of political party tellers lurking at the entrances asking voters to identify themselves – a controversial feature of polling in Penarth in 2012 where some tellers had (illegally) been allowed to set-up within the premises rather than remaining outside.
Up to 40 Vale of Glamorgan Council staff who have been appointed as temporary “presiding officers” or poll clerks in Penarth for today’s elections, are being paid double-salaries for the day.
All the polling stations in the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency are actually being run by Cardiff Council – and it’s Cardiff Council which is employing the polling station staff. However the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council decided that those of its staff who are being engaged by Cardiff Council for today will not have their Vale Council salaries docked for the day – even though they’ll also be paid by Cardiff Council.
The Vale Council ‘cabinet’ has agreed that staff engaged by Cardiff Council for polling day in Penarth will be entitled to claim “leave with pay” for today .These arrangements only cover polling stations in the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency and nowhere else in the Vale .