The major multiples have given a lukewarm reaction to the government’s plans to use supermarkets as polling stations in this year’s May local elections.
In a bid to modernise the electoral system and increase turnout, the government is piloting schemes in 16 local authorities across England in which supermarkets, shopping centres and rural locations could dedicate space for polling stations. The government said the pilots would allow it to test how voting in different locations and at different times could encourage more people to vote.
However, the multiples don’t appear too keen. A Sainsbury spokeswoman said it was too early to say whether it would be interested, while Morrisons said it was not planning to do it.
A spokesman for Somerfield said although its stores had limited space, it was not unknown for it to host MP constituency surgeries and other community activities.
A spokesman for Tesco said: “We would await more information on how polling in-store would work, but we would always consider anything that benefits local people.”
Some independent retailers, however, welcomed the idea. Tates, Roys and Rusts, all in The Grocer Top 50, said they would be interested in hosting polling booths in their larger stores.

The Association of Convenience Stores has launched its Community Hero Award to champion retailers who make a difference to local communities. A sum of £1,000 is up for grabs and the ACS is urging retailers to enter. Three finalists will be given free places at the ACS gala dinner and conference summit on May 24-25.
The countdown to the 2006 Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards has begun. The awards are open to all Scottish food and drink companies whose products are produced, processed or packaged in Scotland. The closing date for entries is February 24. Awards will be presented at a dinner at The Hub in Edinburgh on May 11.
The March 3 deadline for entries to Waitrose’s fifth annual Small Producers Awards 2006 is looming. Winners in six categories will be presented with £5,000 in prize money at the Royal Show in July. The supreme champion will receive £10,000.
Drinks group Diageo’s half-year operating profit before exceptional items to December 31 rose 7% to £1,261m on net sales up 5% to £3,960m. It said volume growth in the UK had increased 2% despite a 22% decline in the ready to drink market and a 5% decline in the beer market.
Manufacturers are exceeding legal requirements for food labelling, two Food Standards Agency surveys have found. The first survey, examining clear food labelling on 396 products, found that 89% of products carried nutritional information. The second, examining country of origin labelling on 358 products, found that 69% of all meat and meat products carried country of origin information.
ACS hails heroes
Scots countdown
Waitrose awards
Diageo profits up
Label mania rules