Extra time for small polling stations

Abbey St Bathans and Cranshaws residents have been given an extra month to make the case for keeping their local polling stations open.

Scottish Borders Council has agreed to delay a decision on closing 10 polling stations across the region, including the two in Berwickshire, until November.

Requesting an extension to the consultation deadline, Mark Rowley, chairman of Lammermuir Community Council said: “This should be a well-considered and unhurried process with all information shared.

“It would be far, far beyond parody if Scotland’s highest-ever voter registration occurred just as SBC denied some of its residents the right to cast their vote and fully engage with the democratic process just to save a few hundred pounds, whilst stripping thousands out of the local economy.

“Whatever the nominal savings to SBC, the costs to the host community are far greater and the likelihood is that SBC officer time promoting this scheme will outweigh any savings. The costs to our community over a 10 year period will be shocking.”

Explaining the council’s reasons for delaying a decision, Louise McGeoch, democratic services team leader told Mr Rowley: “The work involved in preparing for the referendum is unprecedented in its volume and is taking up all our time at the moment.

“I would not want this to affect your opportunity to be able to properly respond to the consultation process and I therefore feel that the best option for both of us would be to extend the consultation period by a further month. That will allow me to provide the information you need after the Referendum and then give you sufficient time to respond.

“The report, containing all responses, would be considered by the council in November.”