Scottish Borders Council have been criticised over plans to no longer have polling stations in Abbey St. Bathans and Cranshaws.
A review of the current polling districts by the council recommended that they no longer be used, leaving local voters with the choice of voting by post or travelling miles further to their next nearest polling station.
The move has been slammed by local representatives John Lamont, MSP and Councillor John Greenwell, especially as the announcement was made before consultation with local residents.
John Lamont, MSP said:“Every time that the council decides to cut costs smaller communities such as Cranshaws and Abbey St. Bathans seem to be the ones who lose out most. Being able to vote nearby has been a huge help to local residents in these villages and it has ensured that community engagement has remained at a high level.
“Closing these polling stations puts this under threat whilst also posing a huge inconvenience to voters. Many will be forced to use postal votes even if they don’t like doing so, or they will be forced to make a 15 mile round trip just to cast their ballot.
“To base the decision on the cost per voter seems a ludicrous method, especially as these communities do not benefit at all from other council services available in the larger towns and villages. It also completely ignores the travel costs being passed on to the electorate who will have to go miles further just to vote.
“Maybe if the council had decided to consult with the local community councils before publishing this review they would have realised what a big mistake they are making.”
Councillor John Greenwell said: “The decision from the council to close these polling stations is appalling, and it has understandably caused a lot of anger in these communities
“Many are especially annoyed the council didn’t try to contact local residents before publishing this initial review.
“These closures will undoubtedly have knock-on effects, especially for the village halls which will become less viable as a result of this decision.
“When the halls in both villages were recently invested in to provide accessible facilities under advice from the council, it is hugely frustrating that the council no longer wants to use them as polling stations.”
The cost to SBC per voter at Abbey St Bathans Village Hall was more than twenty times the region’s average.