Calls have been made for Perth and Kinross Council to provide greater certainty to Bertha Park residents over polling station revisions.
Residents of the Perth £1 billion housing estate must currently travel more than four miles to Luncarty to vote in person, a journey time of 40 minutes for those without access to a car.
SNP MSP for Perthshire North John Swinney has contacted the local authority, urging it to provide greater clarity over polling station revisions ahead of next year’s council elections.
‘This is clearly not acceptable’
Currently, the polling station allocated to Bertha Park locals is the Luncarty Memorial Hall.
The continued growth of the area has prompted calls for a more convenient polling station for residents in the area.
Mr Swinney has written to interim chief executive at Perth and Kinross Council, Barbara Renton, to express his concerns.
He said: “Whilst the last Scottish parliamentary elections saw a record number of voters cast their ballot by post, the majority of the electorate still chose to vote in person.
“To that end, it is vital that all voters have convenient access to a local polling station, and that no undue barriers to voting are put in place.
“Indeed, to travel from Bertha Park to Luncarty without a car involves taking two buses for a journey time of approximately 40 minutes. This is clearly not acceptable, particularly with the rapidly-growing population of Bertha Park.
“Whilst I note that Perth and Kinross Council have indicated that a polling station revision may be required, I believe that residents of Bertha Park should receive certainty of this well in advance of next year’s council elections.
“To that end, I have written to the council to press for a decision to be taken on this matter as quickly as possible.”
Scottish Parliament elections
In May, hundreds of Bertha Park residents without a postal vote were forced to make the journey to Luncarty Memorial Hall to vote in the Scottish Parliament elections.
SNP councillor for the Strathtay Ward Grant Laing expressed concerns ahead of the vote and highlighted that journey times could make it difficult for people to exercise their democratic right.
He said: “If you don’t have a car, you can’t really get there.
“There has to be a nearer polling station.
“Some of the Bertha Park residents have never been to Luncarty so they don’t know where the polling station is.”
Polling station review
In response to Mr Swinney’s concerns, Perth and Kinross Council says it will carry out a review of polling places in the summer.
A spokesperson said: “Perth and Kinross Council are aware of the request in relation to Bertha Park and will be undertaking a review of polling places, in line with normal practice.
“This will take place across the summer months.
“Any changes to polling districts and polling places need approval by the council which would be sought well in advance of the Council elections in May 2022.”