Planning for a smooth council election in city - Andrew Kerr

Preparations are well underway as the Capital readies itself for tomorrow’s local government election to elect the next set of councillors to represent our city.

In 2017, 63 councillors were elected to the Council, with a 50.5% turnout across the city – up from 42.6 per cent in 2012 – and we’re hoping for even higher numbers this year. A total of 399,239 people are registered to vote in Edinburgh, of whom 96,671 have applied to vote by post – almost one voter in four. We have a record 143 candidates from many different parties and independents all looking for your support.

The local councillors you elect will make important decisions on how public services are provided.

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As a council, we deliver over 700 services that have an impact on every resident’s life, including waste collections and road repairs, maintaining culture venues and play parks and caring for our youngest and eldest citizens.

In recent years, we’ve been working to reduce our use of schools on polling days as we‘ve always appreciated the disruption unscheduled school closures can cause to parents, teachers and pupils.

Following the huge interruption to normal schooling through the pandemic it was paramount not to close any schools on polling day and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to achieve this. As a result we are using some new and exciting venues from yoga studios to supermarkets!

As is the case for all local authorities, polling places are chosen to provide the best location, accessibility and space to allow as many people as possible to cast their vote easily. So, whilst many venues have changed, we’ve kept them as close as possible. We’ve alerted people to their new polling place on their polling card and we also have an online tool where you can check.

Our elections web pages can help you find your polling place, accessible voting options, emergency voting and useful information on how the single transferable vote system works, i.e. you need to use numbers to rank as many or as few candidates as you choose in order of your preference.

As the returning officer I’m lucky to have an experienced and talented Election team here in Edinburgh and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them. Running an election in the Capital is no mean feat with 300 polling stations to set up and hundreds of staff to recruit and train. Our team worked hard to replace polling places and also had to ensure a successful election included plans for any additional restrictions required due to the ongoing pandemic.

Our polling places will be safe spaces to cast your vote and we’ll be following the latest Scottish Government guidance as we have done throughout the pandemic. They will also be accessible and welcoming, particularly for those voters with a disability, and our election team has worked closely with Public Health Scotland, our local Director of Public Health and our own Health and Safety team to ensure our polling places – and the people staffing them – are as well prepared as they can be.

Elections are opportunities to have a say on issues that matter to us all so please take the chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box tomorrow.

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Andrew Kerr is Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council and Returning Officer for Edinburgh