Voting begins in the Dover People’s Port referendum

Voting is now well underway in the parish poll on the Dover People’s Port Trust proposal to take over the Port of Dover from Dover Harbour Board, what its backers have described as the ‘communitisation’ of the port.

Since it was decided to stage the poll earlier this month, the ‘Yes’ campaign, led primarily by trust chairman Neil Wiggins and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, has been hard at work drumming up support for their proposal.

It will be interesting to see how the voting, which ends at 9pm this evening, turns out and – more importantly – how the interested parties interpret the result. Here’s how I called it on Twitter this afternoon before the polling stations opened at 4pm:

http://twitter.com/#!/rhysdgriffiths/status/50582218388672512

http://twitter.com/#!/rhysdgriffiths/status/50584111726862336

http://twitter.com/#!/rhysdgriffiths/status/50584685532819456

Let me explain my thinking. I believe there’s no doubt we will see a huge victory for the ‘Yes’ vote because there has simply been no organised opposition to the supporters of the People’s Port proposal. A ‘Yes’ vote of 95 per cent or more would come as no surprise to this observer.

The question being put to the electorate of Dover town – “Do you oppose the private sale of the Port of Dover as proposed by the Dover Harbour Board and support its transfer to the community of Dover instead?” – is also very specific. Those supporting the status quo have no way of expressing that opinion, and those opposed to both the privatisation and the trust’s proposal also have no way of voting consistently with that point of view.

On turnout my prediction is based on a figure for the approximate total electorate put at 28,000 by the town clerk Allison Burton today and it may prove to be a little too pessimistic – but I think a 10 per cent turnout of 2,800 would be a pretty impressive figure for what is still just a non-binding parish poll. Others have told me they believe we could see 30 per cent turnout, which would certainly be a very impressive demonstration of local democracy in action.

I hope my pessimistic prediction on turnout is proved horribly wrong – early reports of queues at the polling stations suggest it may well be – because this is a huge issue for the town and Dovorians should grasp the opportunity to have their say. It will be interesting to see how the night develops.

UPDATE:

Well, I’ll settle for being right on one front…

http://twitter.com/#!/rhysdgriffiths/status/50639663085518850

http://twitter.com/#!/rhysdgriffiths/status/50742039972818944

http://twitter.com/#!/rhysdgriffiths/status/50742940439552000

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