South Scotland

'Democratic boom' keeps Borders polling stations open

Polling station sign
Image caption The costs of running rural polling places are far higher than in urban areas

Councillors have agreed to keep eight polling stations in the Borders open due to the "democratic boom" during the Scottish independence referendum.

Consultation had been carried out on the move to shut sites with an electorate of less than 100.

Scottish Borders Council was told the costs of running a rural polling place were far higher than in urban areas.

However, councillors backed a motion by leader David Parker to retain the sites after the high referendum turnout.

When the consultation on the move to close polling places was agreed in March there were 10 areas affected.

'Poor alternative'

Two locations - Manor and Abbey St Bathans - were subsequently removed as the electorate had risen into three figures.

It left Cappercleuch, Crailing, Cranshaws, Edgerston, Hermitage, Hownam, Makerstoun and Tweedsmuir still on the list for potential closure.

The cost per elector was said to be much higher at the smaller sites - about £24.20 at Cappercleuch compared with £1 per head at an urban polling place.

The move provoked concerns from local community councils which said closures would "deny residents the opportunity to fully engage with the democratic process" with postal votes seen as a "poor alternative".

Many of them urged the council to look at cutting the number of polling stations in bigger communities if they wanted to make savings.

Now councillors have agreed to retain the sites which were under threat of closure.

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