Bill posters may be prosecuted not elected!

AS preparations continue for the May 5 Scottish Parliament election, one Borders councillor is trying to persuade his peers to put a stop to political parties attaching their posters and advertising material on the region’s lampposts.

When Scottish Borders Council meets today (Thursday, March 24) they will discuss the motion put forward by Kelso & District, Conservative Councillor Tom Weatherston.

In it, Councillor Weatherston asks that: “Scottish Borders Council agrees to prohibit the attachment of posters or other advertising materials to lampposts by political parties or other organisations at times of elections or at any other times. Council agrees that this policy should be implemented with immediate effect.”

Nominations for the Scottish Parliament elections close next Tuesday, March 29, and once again voters will be asked to elect a constituency MSP and also their preferred party which will decide the political make-up of the seven South of Scotland MSPs.

This time around though, electors will not be asked to choose their local councillors as well, as they were in 2007 - which proved to be a task too far for many, with a high number of spoilt papers from confused voters and electronic systems, that had to deal with two different papers for the Scottish Parliament election plus a new local council election system.

However, on May 5, there will also be the addition of a referendum vote on changes to the first-past-the-post system still used in Westminter elections. One of the concessions made by the Conservatives when they formed a government with the Lilberal Democrats was to go to the country and see if people wanted a change to the voting system from first-past-the-post to proportional representation, long championed by the Liberal Democrats.

The passing of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act allowed for a referendum to take place and that will happen on May 5 as well.

Local Government elections will have to wait another year and the plan is to do the count electronically in 2012.

When electing their local councillors voters put them in order of preference - 1,2,3,4 etc - and Scottish Borders Council’s election operations team have already taken part in trials runs using the electronic system, which was partially introduced in 2007.

In a report to SBC councillors at today’s meeting, chief executive David Hume, who will act as Returning Officer for the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire constituency and Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, assured them that his election team was ready for the job.

He said: “Although there were problems experienced across some areas of Scotland in 2007 at the last combined Scottish Parliament/local government elections, there were no issues with the e-count system in the Borders.”