Holiday park’s polling post wins vote of thanks
Voters in a rural constituency near Blackpool can now make their crosses in comfort, thanks to a local holiday park owner who became concerned about previous voting arrangements.
Michael Ward, owner of Merlewood Country Park near the village of Little Eccleston, volunteered his park’s reception building as an official polling station earlier this year.
And as a result, grateful voters in July’s general election no longer had to use a mobile voting booth sited near a busy main road which had given rise to safety fears.
Instead, they were able to draw up in Merlewood’s large car park well away from speeding traffic, and register their votes in much more convenient and quieter surroundings.
Now the park will continue to provide the facility in the future, both for general elections in the Fylde constituency and for local council elections.
But although Michael said his offer to provide a polling station was made in response to local criticisms of the unsafe mobile booth, there has been an unexpected upside.
That’s because the facility has allowed many more people than before – including parliamentary candidates and other officials – to get a first-time glimpse of Merlewood:
“We’ve had many positive comments from both politicians and the public, many saying they didn’t know such a superb park existed on their doorstep!” said Michael.
“Part of Merlewood’s appeal to holiday home owners is that it’s hidden away deep in tranquil countryside, so it’s not surprising that many local residents were unaware of its existence.
“The park has now been used for one general election and one local election, and both generated enquiries from people about holiday homes on behalf of their friends and relatives.
“But I think the real value to us is being able to showcase Merlewood to politicians and councillors, and to broaden their understanding of the nature of the parks sector,” added Michael.
Merlewood provides 140 privately owned caravan holiday homes in seven acres of unspoiled countryside alongside the picturesque River Wyre, and is open for 11 months of the year.
The park’s accolades include the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level in recognition of its many wildlife and environmental initiatives.
Michael’s long-established family business is based near Garstang in Lancashire, and comprises Merlewood Country Park together with four residential parks in the region.
There is more information about the park at www.merlewoodcountrypark.co.uk