Edinburgh schools will stay open on polling day in May's council elections after alternative venues found for voting

Schools in Edinburgh will no longer have to close on election day after council chiefs managed to find alternative venues for polling stations.

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The disruption to children’s education and the problems of arranging childcare every time an election came along has long been a sore issue with parents.

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And although there has been a gradual reduction in the number of schools where pupils had to stay away while people came out to vote, it is only now that the council has managed to eliminate the need for any polling stations to be housed in a school.

Alternative venues have been found so schools no longer need to be used as polling stations. Picture: Neil Hanna

At last year’s Scottish Parliament election there were still 19 schools in Edinburgh used for voting, but on Thursday councillors are set to endorse a new list of venues to be used for polling stations and stop the practice altogether.

A report to the full council meeting says: "Closure of these schools on polling day was a further disruption to education following extreme disruption over the previous year due to the pandemic’s impact on schools.

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“Polling facilities have now been reviewed and alternatives identified for all those 19 schools.

"Due to the limited timescales there has been no opportunity for the usual public consultation around these proposals. However there has been informal consultation with ward councillors where possible.”

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It does add there are four cases where an alternative venue has yet to be finalised, but says ward councillors will be consulted and the council chief executive should be given delegated authority to make a final designation of polling place.

The report also says “no suitable replacement” has been identified for Sighthill Primary School, but a council spokesman said officials now did have a proposal.

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The changes will apply for the council elections on May 5 and any subsequent elections.

Polling stations are reviewed every five years, with the next full review scheduled for October 2025.

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Lib Dem councillor Kevin Lang, who has campaigned for an end to schools being used as polling stations, said it was “terrific news” that schools would stay open on election day.

He said: “I’m delighted that officers have found these alternatives. After two years of disruption in our schools because of Covid it’s vital that we minimise the time which the council requires schools to close. It’s disruptive to pupils and parents who have to find alternative arrangements.

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"It was always my view that with the right effort there were alternatives out there and it’s clear that the council can use alternative venues that will keep schools open on polling day.”

Some other polling stations in the city will also be different on May 5 because the usual venues are unavailable due to building work or being used for other purposes.

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The council plans a social media campaign to ensure voters are aware of the new polling locations.

The schools which were used as polling stations and the new places to vote:

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Almond:

Echline Primary: Queensferry Library tbc

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Cramond Primary: Cramond Kirk Halls tbc

Hillwood PS: GTG Edinburgh tbc

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Pentland Hills

Sighthill Primary: tbc

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Drum Brae/Gyle

Fox Covert Primary: Leonardo Edinburgh Murrayfield tbc

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Gylemuir Primary: St Thomas' Church

ForthVictoria Primary: Newhaven Parish Church tbc

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Trinity Primary: Summerside Bowling Club tbc

Inverleith

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Blackhall Primary: Blackhall Library

Corstorphine/Murrayfield

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Gylemuir Primary: Tesco Corstorphine tbc

Sighthill/Gorgie

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Murrayburn Primary: Sighthill Bowling Club tbc

Colinton/Fairmilehead

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Buckstone Primary: Charwood tbc

Leith Walk

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Broughton Nursery: Drivers’ Sports & Social Club tbc

Leith Walk Primary: Holyrood Evangelical Church tbc

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Leith

Hermitage Park Primary: Leith St Andrews Church tbc

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St. Mary's (Leith) R.C. Primary: Leith Dockers’ Club

Liberton/Gilmerton

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St. John Vianney R.C. Primary: Liberton Rugby Club tbc

Portobello/Craigmillar

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St. John's R.C. Primary: Yellow Bamboo Yoga tbc

Newcraighall Primary: Cuddie Brae tbc

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