Election `97: Council slip puts estate on lunatic fringe herey

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The Independent Online
Residents of a housing estate have been disenfranchised from next Thursday's poll owing to a blunder by officials.

While the rest of the electorate exercises its right to decide who governs Britain, householders at Cavendish Place, in Evesham, Worcestershire, will have the same voting status as lunatics, the Royal Family, peers and criminals in prison.

The number of people who have lost their polling right is in dispute. According to residents, most of the 50 properties in the private development have been missed out. Wychavon District Council says some of the householders can vote elsewhere.

In a mix-up, the council apparently decided Cavendish Place Estate did not exist, so neither did the people. This did not stop them from cashing cheques for council tax of up to pounds 1,000 per property.

The estate, with houses costing around pounds 150,000, had been in existence since spring last year and between last September and October residents should have received forms for electoral rolls.

None of this happened at Cavendish Place. When one concerned resident telephoned the council, he was sent a form, but this did not lead to officials remembering the other 49 homes.

Graham and Sue Meacham discovered neither of them had the vote last Tuesday, barring them from taking part in both the national and local elections on the same day. Mrs Meacham, 36, said: "I called the local council straight away, but they said it was too late to do anything."

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