Plans to reduce the number of schools used as polling stations to avoid disruption to children’s education have been welcomed, writes Drew Sandelands, Local Democracy Reporter.
East Renfrewshire Council has backed proposals which would cut primary school usage from 14 to 11.
The move is part of a statutory review of East Renfrewshire’s polling districts, which must be completed by April 2020.
It would see Glen Halls, Neilston, Netherlee Pavilion and Montgomerie Hall, Eaglesham replace Neilston Primary School, Netherlee Primary School and Eaglesham Primary School respectively.
Broom Parish Church would also be used instead of Crookfur Pavilion, which is to be demolished and replaced with a nursery.
Councillor Jim Swift said: “I’m delighted at us taking on board a Conservative proposal to stop using schools wherever possible.
“Frankly, both parents commonly work nowadays and it’s extraordinarily inconvenient for us to close schools.
“It’s not good for children either, who are missing a day of school for an election, though they may rejoice. I certainly would have.”
The review must ensure polling places are practical and accessible for all.
Councillor Angela Convery said: “I’m also delighted to see suggested alternatives to using schools as polling stations.
“This is something that I have actively fought for as I believe it is in the best interests of our schools to use them for the purpose they are built, to school our children.
“I do not see the need to close schools especially when there is a suitable alternative nearby.”
During initial consultation, 28 responses were received with 26 requesting alternative locations to schools were identified. A report to councillors states “where there is a suitable alternative venue available, non-school premises will be used”.
“However, the challenge in East Renfrewshire is the identification of alternative premises that are suitable as polling places,” it adds.
Barrhead, Neilston and Uplawmoor are included.
Proposed changes to UK constituencies could see the Barrhead, Neilston and Uplawmoor area become part of the Renfrewshire West and Garnock Valley Constituency.
If the changes go ahead, East Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Council will discuss the new polling schemes.
The draft polling scheme suggests Mure Hall in Uplawmoor and Cross Arthurlie Primary School, Dalmeny Community Centre, St Andrew’s Parish Church, Carlibar Primary School and Auchenback Resource Centre in Barrhead are used.
It would also include Glens Halls in Neilston and St Cadoc’s Primary School and Crookfur Primary School in Newton Mearns operate as polling stations.
Thornliebank Primary School, Giffnock Primary School, Braidbar Primary School, Our Lady of the Missions Primary School and Carmichael Hall would be used in Thornliebank and Giffnock.
In Clarkston, Netherlee & Williamwood, the stations would be at Netherlee Pavilion, Clarkston Hall, Williamwood Parish Church, Carolside Primary School and Busby Primary School.
Fairweather Hall, Broom Parish Church, Kirkhill Primary School, Mearns Kirk Church Hall and Montgomerie Hall are also suggested.