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Parents’ education fears as Aberdeen school to be used as polling station

Duncan Milne, chairman of Glashieburn Parent Council, is unhappy the school is to be used as a polling station.
Duncan Milne, chairman of Glashieburn Parent Council, is unhappy the school is to be used as a polling station.

Angry parents say their children’s education will “suffer” if city leaders cannot find an alternate polling station ahead of the Scottish election.

In recent years, voters in Bridge of Don have been heading to Glashieburn Primary School to cast their ballots.

But a parent group has hit out at its potential closure to pupils on May 6 – saying shutting for just one day will be “one day too many” – after months of pandemic-enforced absence for their children.

Aberdeen City Council has argued there are no other suitable alternatives nearby – and that it is too late to change any plans, as polling cards will be issued in the coming weeks.

Lockdown end ‘firmly in sight’ as all secondary school pupils set to return part or full-time on March 15

Duncan Milne, chairman of Glashieburn Parent Council, said: “Since March last year the schools have, for the most part, been off-limits.

“Our own children continue to be denied access or have restrictions placed on them, ASN support staff aren’t allowed on site and even we as parents have not been able to enter the school since March 2020.

“We believe it’s unacceptable we’ve had these restrictions placed on us, yet, for the election, anyone will potentially be allowed onto the site.

“We are not against the democratic process but feel our children’s education has suffered enough these last 12 months.

“Even if the school is closed for one day, it’s one day too many.

“We would urge the council to reconsider using the school, this time round more than ever.”

Polling facilities moved

Previously, residents in the Middleton and Parkway North polling districts would cast their votes at the Jesmond Centre while those in Newburgh would head to Glashieburn Primary.

In 2017, it was renamed Get Active @ Jesmond and given a £1 million refit to create a “gold standard” fitness centre, with its polling facilities moved to the school.

Mr Milne added: “We, as a parents’ group, strongly disagree with Aberdeen City Council’s continued use of Glashieburn Primary as a polling station.

“The school has been closed several times in recent years for various national and local elections and referendums and looks likely to be shut again in May.

“We’ve contacted the council previously asking that they use alternative venues and they’ve said there are none suitable.

“They instead have asked us to suggest somewhere and they’ll consider it.”

Schools the ‘only option’

Aberdeen councillor Ryan Houghton.
Aberdeen councillor Ryan Houghton.

Aberdeen City Council business manager, Ryan Houghton, said: “We recognise the disruption that is caused by using schools as polling places and we thank everyone concerned for their understanding and patience.

“The schools in use as polling places have been identified as essential to the running of the elections.

“The Scottish Parliament elections present particular difficulties in identifying suitable buildings with sufficient space and in a number of instances, only the local schools are large enough to accommodate the number of polling stations required, one-way systems, and appropriate distancing throughout the process of voting.

“We always ask local people with local knowledge to contribute to the process of identifying polling places as we have found that this is one of the best ways to identify suitable buildings and we hope we can continue to have an open and productive dialogue with all parent council groups.”

SNP city councillor Jackie Dunbar said: “I understand that concerns have been raised by the Glashieburn Parent Council and I have since written to Aberdeen City Council’s chief executive to see what can be done to minimise the impact of the election on pupil’s education.

“I fully appreciate the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on education.”

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