North-east councillors have voted to stop using additional needs schools as polling places after complaints about the impact on youngsters.
Westfield School in Fraserburgh and Peterhead’s Anna Ritchie School have traditionally been taken over for elections – causing upheaval for pupils.
And their removal from the list could just be the beginning of sweeping changes to voting arrangements across the region.
Aberdeenshire Council officers are now working towards ditching ballot booths from every school in the area.
During a meeting on Thursday, local authority leader Andy Kille revealed he had personally been petitioned on the issue.
While standing at the Westfield gates during the 2017 council elections, a concerned parent pleaded for alternative arrangements to be put in place.
‘Significant impact on young people’
He said: “Some of the pupils there are particularly susceptible to some ill effects of having their routines disrupted.
“I was approached by a parent on election day in 2017 at the school to ask that it be moved for this reason.
“I passed it on so I am very pleased to see that it will now be moved.”
Huntly councillor Gwyneth Petrie said more work should be done to get rid of polling stations from other north-east schools.
She added: “There is still work to be done because the significant impact on our young people from these buildings being used for elections – which are becoming more regular – is undisputed.”
People who have previously cast their votes in Westfield School will now go to the town’s St Andrew’s Hall.
Those in the north of Peterhead used to voting at the Anna Ritchie School will use the local Territorial Army Centre instead.
What other schools act as Aberdeenshire polling places?
- Arnage School
- Aucherellon Primary School, Ellon
- Banchory Devenick School
- Buchanhaven School, Peterhead
- Clerkhill School, Peterhead
- Crudie School
- Dales Park School, Peterhead
- Drumblade School Nursery Building
- Meiklemill Primary School, Ellon
- Tough School
Other relocations approved
Those aren’t the only changes agreed in the meeting.
Auchterless Community Hall will be used as the Turriff and District Ward polling place following the mothballing of Easterfield School.
And Finzean Public Hall will replace Ballogie Nursery for voters in the Banchory area.
It comes after a review of the region’s voting arrangements, which is carried out every five years.
North Kincardine member, Alison Evison, asked that accessibility be considered on any future decisions on venue changes.
She said: “It is important to democracy that our polling places are also accessible.”
Other changes to Aberdeenshire polling places include:
- Macduff Town Hall to Buchan Street Hall
- Lonmay Public Hall to Roads Community Cafe, St Combs
- Garioch Community Centre in Inverurie to Garioch Indoor Bowling Club
- Voters in the Hillside ward will go from The Porty Cabin in Portlethen to the Jubilee Hall
- People in Portlethen North will go from the Jubilee Hall to Portlethen Parish Church