West Lothian Council election planning underway

Plans are being drawn up to ensure the smooth running of the first post-pandemic council election in West Lothian, to be held next year.

By Stuart Sommerville, LDR
Monday, 18th October 2021, 5:00 am
Stock election count photo, by Lisa Ferguson.
Stock election count photo, by Lisa Ferguson.

Councillors face the public in elections on May 5, 2022, in a vote that will change the face of West Lothian Council in an already changed environment. Key to the success of next year’s elections is making them Covid-safe.

The Covid lockdown has seen digital changes accelerated within the council and changed the way the public can access meetings. From December meetings will be conducted in a hybrid manner with only seven councillors in the chamber and the rest attending by Audio Visual.

This digital change has also impacted elections. West Lothian has had some experience, having run two by-elections – in Livingston South and East Calder – during the pandemic.

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In a report to the council’s Partnership and Resources PDSP, Caroline Burton from the Chief Executive’s Office said: “The use of e-counting at the two local government by-elections held in 2021 also provided an opportunity for all local stakeholders to familiarise themselves with the system.”

A review of polling procedures is already being discussed with the Electoral commission and council staff are carrying out a review of the country polling station provision.

The report said in reviewing polling places and potential new polling places, the potential for them to have to operate effectively under different levels of Covid restrictions will continue to be an essential part of the process.

“A key aim will be to seek to ensure that all electors in a constituency in the local authority area have such reasonable facilities for voting as are practicable in the circumstances; and seek to ensure that so far as is reasonable and practicable every polling place for which it is responsible is accessible to voters who are disabled.”

Mrs Burton added: “Preparations are under way for the safe and effective delivery of the local government elections in May next year. Work is ongoing with a range of partners to ensure that planning process takes account of the regulatory framework and relevant guidance.”