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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
'Suffragettes' take on voter apathy
The 'suffragettes' protest
Turnout at last year's council election in the town was 31.7%
A group of women have chained themselves to railings, suffragette-style, in a bid to highlight the importance of voting.

Maidstone Borough Council came up with the stunt to try and counter voter apathy ahead of the local elections on 1 May.

It hopes to encourage people to the ballot box by reminding them of the lengths some people had to go to just for the right to vote.

In last year's council elections the turnout in Maidstone was just 31.7%.

Died under horse

In the early part of the 20th century suffragettes fought to win the right for women to vote with eye-catching moves such as chaining themselves to railings, marching, deliberately getting themselves arrested and refusing to eat in prison.

The 'suffragettes' in Maidstone
The 'suffragettes' found themselves confronted by 'police'

Perhaps the best-remembered action was that taken by Emily Davidson, who died beneath the hoofs of the king's horse at the 1913 Derby.

Women were eventually given the vote in 1918.

Nothing as dangerous or severe took place in Maidstone on Tuesday, but the light-hearted protests, which saw the women confronted by police officers also in period costume, drew plenty of crowds.

Returning officer Richard Snaith said: "When you consider the lengths that some people went to to get the right to vote, everyone should make sure they use it now."

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