No to closing rural polling stations

Councillors have rejected a controversial proposal to close eight rural polling stations serving electorates of less than 100.

The facilities were among 10 earmarked for extinction in March following a statutory review of electoral arrangements across the region.

That study revealed that SBC could save £5,000 per election by shutting the stations at Tweedsmuir and Manor in Peeblesshire, Abbey St Bathans and Cranshaws in Berwickshire, Cappercleuch in Selkirkshire, along with the Roxburghsire hamlets of Makerston, Hownam, Crailing, Edgerston and Hermitage.

The cost of hiring and staffing the venues for recent elections varied from £12.86 per elector in Makerston to £24.20 in Cappercleuch. This contrasted with the average cost of £1 per elector in a station serving 600 voters.

The closures were put out for community council consultation with Manor and Abbey St Bathans being removed from the process after new registrations saw the 100-voter threshhold exceeded. With the exception of Crailing, which voiced no dissent, local opposition was emphatic.

At the latest full SBC meeting, it took councillors just a few minutes to unanimously throw out the closure plans.