It is reported that East Lothian Council plans to close seven polling stations in rural communities throughout East Lothian.

These include the closure of polling stations in Bolton, Oldhamstocks, Spott, East Saltoun, Tyninghame and Whittingehame.

While the council has declared a ‘climate emergency’ and a ‘nature emergency’, these changes would force residents from these villages to drive up to 50-minute round-trips to vote.

In many of these communities, the alternative would be spending over one hour to travel by public transport, which will be challenging and inconvenient, particularly for elderly residents in those villages where public transport is either limited or unavailable.

Voters in rural areas should not be penalised and should have equal access to voting as those in urban areas. To do otherwise is discriminatory and creates disparity.

Indeed, it is inequitable that it is planned that Tranent, for example, would continue with two polling stations which are a five-minute walk apart.

Elsewhere, Prestonpans will retain two polling stations and Musselburgh four, even though North Berwick, Haddington and Dunbar each manage with just one polling place.

Three quarters of those eligible to vote do so in person and therefore removing any village polling station will negatively impact on voters’ ability to exercise their democratic voting rights.

East Lothian Council should therefore think again and keep rural polling stations open.

If they want to close polling stations in East Lothian to make savings, the situation in Musselburgh, Tranent and Prestonpans should be looked at first.

Anthony Stodart


North Berwick