Rural polling stations will remain open for business

Ballot b oxes will still be in place at Abbey St Bathans and Cranshaws
Ballot b oxes will still be in place at Abbey St Bathans and Cranshaws

Councillors have rejected a controversial proposal to close eight rural polling station that all serve fewer than 100 voters.

A review of polling stations resulted in 10 earmarked for closure at a saving of £5000 per election, but the proposed closure of rural polling stations did not go down well, with Lammermuir Community Council leading the campaign to keep them open.

Through Freedom of Information requests to Scottish Borders Council Lammermuir Community Council chairman Mark Rowley discovered that the initial recommendations to councillors for the closure of ten polling stations were based on out-of-date information. Up-dating the electoral information took both Abbey St Bathans and Manor polling station over the crucial 100 voter mark and meant they were removed from the hit list.

Mr Rowley also discovered that no impact assessment had been carried out.

“It would seriously imperil the viability of one of the few remaining facilities within our small community,” he said.

After councillors unanimously rejected the proposals, Mid Berwickshire councillor, John Greenwell, said: “Although it was pleasing to hear Councillor Parker say that no action would be taken to close Cranshaws and other polling stations, it still leaves the issue of the Equalities Impact Assessment and rural proofing actions by the Council in question,

“This report put forward by the Administration last Thursday to all elected members to consider was only withdrawn at the last minute because without the correct procedures followed for both Equalities and Rural proofing any decision taken to close polling stations would not have been legal and could have been challenged in court.

“As the Equalities and Diversity Champion I will be asking for all reports that require councillors to make decisions that affect our citizens to have the EIA documents attached to it so that councillors can come to an informed decision without the concern that their decision could bring about a legal challenge.”