Voter 'bemused and angry' over police commissioner election snub
A POLISH man living in Swansea has branded our country undemocratic after claiming he was barred from voting in the new police commissioner elections.
Ryszard Winiarski, a 65-year-old Polish national who now lives in Sandfields, Swansea, says he is "bemused and angry" after turning up at a polling station in Victoria Park last Thursday, with his ballot card in hand, only to be denied his civic right.
The former teacher, who has lived in Swansea for the past seven years, said: "When I went to vote, one woman found my name on a list and crossed it off before giving me a voting slip, then another took it from me.
"She said that people from Scotland and non-UK countries could not vote.
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"Why would they send me a voting card if I wasn't able to vote? I was given the card to vote and then they took it away.
"I am bemused and angry. I have been living here for seven years. I thought Wales and the UK was very democratic.
"I have been a resident here for seven years and have worked for six years doing 14 hours shifts and paying tax. This isn't Russia where you can be accused of fiddling elections.
"This is discrimination against Polish people.
"I definitely expect an apology and I want it confirmed that I am allowed to vote in future elections.
"I enjoy living in Swansea, this is my home, I feel so bad because I was refused doing my duty as a citizen."
Halina Ashley, a founding member of Llanelli's Polish Centre, said that Mr Winiarski should have been allowed to vote in the election.
She said: "They (Polish nationals) all voted in Llanelli without a problem.
"As taxpayers in this country they are allowed to vote in all elections aside from the parliamentary elections."
South Wales Police area returning officer Steven Phillips said: "It would not be appropriate to comment without knowing the full circumstances. I would ask the gentleman to write to either myself as police area returning officer, or to the local returning officer, so we can look into the matter further."