One pub is looking forward to playing a key role in upcoming elections, providing a place for people to not only discuss politics over a pint, but also cast their vote on the premises too.

The Milbourne Arms, Carlisle, is set to be transformed into a polling station next week, with voters in the city’s Cathedral and Castle ward being asked to attend the pub in the Shaddongate area to have their say.

Although local elections in Cumbria have been rescheduled until May 2022, due to the consultation on proposals for local government reorganisation in the county, elections for the vacant seats on local councils and for the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner are due to be held on May 6.

And Dianne Irving, who owns the Milbourne Arms, is thrilled to be lending a helping hand during the process.

“We are more than happy to help where we can, and if this provides reassurance for people to come and cast their vote in a safe venue, then we are very grateful that our pub was chosen," she said.

“As the Milbourne Arms is currently shut due to Covid-19 restrictions, it’s great to see that the venue can still be useful to our residents and the city.

“We are also looking forward to welcoming members of the community who might not have been able to visit our pub since it was refurbished last year.”

Covid safety measures and social distancing regulations will be in place at the pub-based polling station, with residents being reminded to wear a face covering when voting – unless they are medically exempt – and to use the hand sanitiser provided.

Dianne also runs the award-winning Crown Inn at Stanwix and the Howard Arms in Carlisle, which opened their beer gardens for outdoor food and drink on April 15, following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The Milbourne Arms, which does not have an outside space, is due to reopen to customers from May 17, in accordance with step three of the government’s roadmap.

The Howard Arms and the Crown Inn are also set to open for indoor food and drink from that date.

Dianne added: “We can’t wait to get all three pubs fully open and get people back through the doors again.

“It’s been an incredibly tough experience for the hospitality industry, but we are now counting down the days where we can resume some form of normality and restore some routine to our lives.”

Cathedral and Castle ward is one of three Carlisle City Council by-elections taking place, along with Harraby South and Parklands ward and Newtown and Morton North city ward.

There will also be a Cumbria Council Council by-election in Brampton.