Online poll about controversial Cherkley Court development plans skewed by multiple voting

The rolling countryside at Cherkley Court

The rolling countryside at Cherkley Court

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Voting in last week's poll on this website about a highly controversial plan to build a golf course at Cherkley Court, near Leatherhead, was much closer than the final result suggested.

The Epsom Guardian, which covers the Leatherhead, Ashtead and Banstead areas as well as the borough of Epsom and Ewell, asked readers: Should a golf course be built at Cherkley Court?

By the end of the week-long poll, the website registered a total of 2,488 votes, 1,485 in favour and 1,003 against.

This was an unusually large number of votes, reflecting the importance of the issue, but also the fact that multiple voting took place on both sides.

To provide a more accurate indication of how many individuals actually took part we checked the number of distinct web browsers used and decided to publish that result alongside the number of votes in last week's newspaper.

This showed that a total of 568 distinct browser were used to vote yes and 556 no.

So on this measure the result was very nearly a draw.

Commenting on the results, Kristina Kenworthy, from the Cherkley Campaign, said: "Members of Cherkley Campaign blew the whistle because it was so obvious that the poll was being abused by multiple voting".

"Anyway the question should have been do you want Leatherhead Downs (Cherkley Estate) to be a nationally protected landscape or another golf course?

"Contrary to Longshot's assertion that the golf course will 'further enhance the natural beauty of the estate', Cherkley has recently been dropped as a candidate for inclusion the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

"The reason being that golf courses, even old ones like Tyrrell's Wood and Walton Heath, cannot be considered as areas of natural beauty."

A Longshot spokesman said: "We thank the Epsom Guardian for demonstrating this not a cut and dried argument. It shows public opinion is not against us.

"It is nice to know there is as much support in the community for the scheme as opposition can be drummed up by those that oppose it."

He said they will continue to look to create a "jewel in the crown of Mole Valley" that would draw national attention to Leatherhead and do its residents proud.

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