Double election date pressure for SBC staff

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Around 750 staff will be deployed by Scottish Borders Council to run two elections in the region on June 8, leaving other council services running on a skeleton staff.

The council’s democratic services team, which supports councillors, will be under pressure administering both the General Election contest for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk and the Scottish Parliamentary by-election for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, on the same day.

At last week’s full council meeting, chief executive Tracey Logan, Returning Officer at both polls, told councillors: “We may have to reduce the service we give you because staff will be involved at polling stations and at the overnight counts.

“Please bear with us”.

There will be 116 polling stations in the region for the General Election – with some venues having more than one station – and 88 for the by-election.

A council spokesperson said: “Due to the staffing requirements of both elections, the council will operate with a skeleton staff in areas which do not deliver essential services on June 8.

“Around 750 people will be drafted in, but these are by no means all council staff.”

Berwickshire voters are being urged to take care in putting the correct ballot paper in the right ballot box or neither of their votes will be counted.

Returning officer Tracey Logan explained that ballots and ballot boxes will be colour-co-ordinated and polling station staff will advise anyone who is unsure.

There are two general election husting dates – at Duns and Eyemouth – and one Scottish Parliament by-election hustings at Duns being held ahead of the June 8 elections.

All four candidates for the Scottish Parliamentary by-election – Catriona Bhatia (Scottish Liberal Democrats), Rachael Hamilton (Scottish Conservative and Unionist), Gail Hendry (Scottish National Party) and Sally Prentice (Scottish Labour) – will attend the Scottish Parliamentary by-election hustings in Duns Parish Church at 7pm, tonight, Thursday, May 25.

The event will be chaired by Minister Stephen Blakey and questions can be submitted in advance at Romanes Pharmacy or by email to admin@dunsanddistrict.org.uk (one per person). There will also be questions from the floor on the night.

The second hustings event at Duns Parish Church is on Thursday, June 1, and the four general election candidates – Caroline Burgess (Scottish Liberal Democrats), Ian Davidson (Labour & Co-operative Party), Calum Kerr (Scottish National Party) and John Lamont (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party) – have been invited to attend.

The Eyemouth hustings is on Friday, June 2, at 7.30pm in Eyemouth United Congregational Church, Albert Road, organised by East Berwickshire Churches Together and again all four Westminster candidates have been invited.

The event is open to everyone and questions can be submitted by email to eucongregational@gmail.com or the EU Facebook page.

They can also be submitted on the night.

“Our constituency is one of the tightest battles in this general election,” said Rev MacRae, of the EU church. “This is a great opportunity for the community to grill their candidates and directly find out what the parties and their candidates are actually saying and make an informed choice at the ballot box.”