Rural polling stations could be facing closure

Cranshaw village hall
Cranshaw village hall
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Abbey St Bathans and Cranshaws voters may have to travel to Preston Village Hall to cast their votes in future elections.

A review of current polling districts across the Borders has been carried out by Scottish Borders Council, and amongst the findings was that there are ten polling places in the region with under 100 people on the electoral roll, including Abbey St Bathans, which has 92 (14 of whom are permanent postal voters) and Cranshaws with 63 (three as postal voters).

Reporting to councillors, Louise McGeoch, democratic services team leader, said: “It is proposed given the increasing financial constraints on both national and local government, the increasing use of postal votes and high cost per elector for these 10 polling places that they cease to be used for electoral purposes after 2014 and that the voters in those areas be given the option of either applying for a postal vote or voting at their next nearest polling place.”

In 2012 elections the cost per voter at Abbey St Bathans Village Hall was £22.20 and at Cranshaws Village Hall £26.90. The average cost per elector on a council wide basis was 62p and £2.12 for a postal voter.

However, while the review of the region’s polling stations included a 12 week public consultation process it was merely seeking views on the current situation and didn’t ask for people’s views on the possible closure of the least used polling stations. They only received 12 responses, most of them either recommending no change or alternative venues to the existing ones.

Councillors are now being asked to agree to consultations being undertaken with the community councils in areas affected by the proposed polling station closures.

Ms McGeoch added: “As the proposed closure of these polling places was not included in the original consultation process it is suggested that the community councils in each of the affected areas be consulted on these proposals before any action to close these polling places is taken.”