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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
Vote while you shop
Polling Station
Polling stations are open across Wales
People around Wales will be casting their vote at many different locations on Thursday including a supermarket and a village pub.

Traditionally, it was the local school or hall which provided the venue for voters across the country.

But times are changing, and many of the electorate have in fact already voted by post as rules were relaxed for this election.

As part of new initiatives to try to maintain traditionally high turnouts on polling day, the government is turning to new venues.

polling station
Polling stations are open around Wales

One of the most unusual polling booths will be outside a Cardiff supermarket.

Shoppers will be able to pick their next MP as they choose their groceries at the Tesco store in Pengam Green, in the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency.

There will be two booths near the entrance to the store, which opened only five weeks ago.

It is hoped that the presence of the booths will help boost the numbers voting in this area of new housing developments.

Store manager Chris Trew said: "We are right bang in the middle of Pengam Green.

"It saves having to close the local school and people can vote when they shop at the same time."

The shop normally opens from 0800 to 2200 BST but it will throw open its doors an hour early to match the voting times of 0700 to 2200 BST.

It saves having to close the local school and people can vote when they shop at the same time

Chris Trew, Tesco manager

Some lucky electors will be able to stroll down to their local for a vote as well as a pint on Thursday.

There are 143 people on the register for Montgomeryshire at the Tafern Dwynant pub in the mid Wales village of Ceinws.

The function room used as a polling station has a separate outside entrance from the pub, so voters do not have to go through licensed premises.

Athough parts of Wales have a temperance tradition, Ceinws presiding officer Nerina Davies, of Powys county council, said: "I have not heard of anyone objecting to voting in a pub."

But she admitted: "We do get a lot of leg-pulling."

Shorter distance

Ms Davies said the Tafern Dwynant was a "community-based" pub including the shop and the Post Office.

The use of the pub room as a polling station cut the distance voters in the rural area would otherwise have to travel to make their mark - a key factor for the elderly.

It certainly seems to pull out the voters, with a turnout of about 2% more than the average for Liberal Democrat-defended Montgomeryshire.

Ms Davies said landlady Norah Richards kept polling station staff topped up with cups of tea - but definitely not alcohol.

However, some voters do go on for a drink after doing their civic duty.

Vote in a cottage

Among the more unusual sites for polling stations in Wales are an arts and crafts centre in Swansea, and a caravan at Bedwas near Caerphilly.

And around 80 people in the south Wales village of Bedwellty near Tredegar are being invited to vote in the front room of a terraced cottage.

The former miner's cottage has been set up to act as a polling station to the small community.


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