A GENERAL election may be looming, but Bishop's Waltham residents are calling time and going to the polls early.

They are voting in the Great Bishop's Waltham millennium clock referendum.

The big question is whether the town should have a millennium clock, or not.

Residents are not having an official polling day but are being urged to vote on the clock issue by giving their views to parish council clerk Rex Blundell at the Jubilee Hall by March 1.

Bishop's Waltham and clocks go back a long way via the Padbury family

They built clocks in the town from the early 1700s to 1899 and Padbury clocks became known far and wide.

Parish councillors thought a clock would be an ideal way to mark the millennium, or next year's Queen's Jubilee, and have set aside some cash.

They asked local history researcher Bill Walmsley to investigate the town's clock connection and report back on what action would be appropriate.

Mr Walmsley said: "Bishop's Waltham has a history of clockmaking and it was thought a clock would be the ideal way of marking a big event.

"We do need a clock in Bishop's Waltham. There is a clock in High Street - a Padbury clock in fact - but it doesn't work.

"There have been various suggestions so far, but costs can vary."

Ideas so far include a four-faced clock, or a two-faced clock in the centre of St George's Square, a two-faced clock on the corner of Barclay's Bank or on Lloyds TSB.

Alternatives include a two-faced clock on One-Stop or the post office and a single-faced clock on Austin Wyatt, looking up High Street.