DCSIMG

Stop using schools as polling places

Frank Roy no longer wants to see schools such as  Muir Street Primary in Motherwell closed to pupils because an election is being held.

Frank Roy no longer wants to see schools such as Muir Street Primary in Motherwell closed to pupils because an election is being held.

Motherwell and Wishaw MP Frank Roy has called on North Lanarkshire Council to reconsider using schools as polling places.

During last month’s Motherwell North by-election four primary schools Newarthill, Keir Hardie, Our Lady and St Francis and Muir Street, were closed to pupils.

Mr Roy wants the council to use other venues such as church halls, community rooms or pensioner centres.

He said: “During the recent by-election I was approached by a number of constituents extremely unhappy their children’s schools had been closed in order they may be used as polling places.

“I believe there’s a fundamental problem with using schools on election days as parents either have to lose a day’s salary to look after their children, or find money to pay for the extra childcare.

“Using schools on election days is no longer affordable to local parents and there must also be considerable cost in paying school staff for time during which their services are not required.

“The problem is widespread throughout my constituency and is one I would like to have addressed as soon as possible.

“There are more than 20 schools used as polling places, with some no more than a few hundred yards from suitable alternative facilities.

“In today’s harsh economic climate it has become unreasonable to expect parents to lose out financially purely so their children’s school can be used for elections.”

The council’s returning officer and chief executive Gavin Whitefield said: “It is important people have the opportunity to vote as close to home as possible and, in many cases, that happens to be schools.

“However, the education service are given advance notice of election dates, where possible, in order that consideration be given to the use of In Service days, thus avoiding and additional loss of a day for pupils.”

 

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