Increasing Number of Orcadians Choosing to Vote by Post

In Orkney more than a third of the 17,668 people on the Electoral Register have selected to vote by post – 6,098 in total, 34.5%. This is an increase of 1,793 since December 2020. Many of those electors will already have voted and posted their ballot papers.

Postal votes can also be handed in at polling stations on election day and handed in at OIC Customer Services in Kirkwall during office hours on Thursday 6 May. They can also be posted through the letterbox at the Council Offices in School Place at any time up to 10pm on Thursday 6 May.

All the votes are counted in Orkney.

There are Covid restrictions in place at polling places just like you would expect if you were going into a shop.

Two of Orkney’s Polling stations have been relocated so that people can vote safely. The St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall, polling station has moved to the Pickaquoy Leisure Centre and The South Ronaldsay and Burray Polling Station has moved from the ‘Hope School to the Cromarty Hall.

All of Orkney’s islands, with the exception of Mainland and the linked South Isles, use postal ballots, but for many of Scotland’s islands ballot boxes are still physically transported. Where that happens Air Traffic Controllers who are members of trade union Prospect are to lift their overtime ban at Highlands and Islands Airports Limited so that those Ballot Boxes can be transported to mainland counts.

David Avery, Prospect negotiator, said:

“Prospect members in HIAL are participating in industrial action because they care about the communities they serve. These communities will suffer significant negative consequences, both in terms of jobs and potentially safety, if the remote towers project goes ahead.

“However, because our air traffic controllers are so embedded in their communities they are anxious not to impede the delivery of democracy to the islands, especially with many islanders planning to use their ballots to send a message on this issue.

“As a result Prospect is lifting its overtime ban for the purposes of allowing votes to be transported once the polls are closed. Air traffic controllers normally participate in the election night rota on a voluntary basis and this will still be the case next week.

“With the exception of these flights our industrial action continues as normal. Hopefully the new parliament will see sense and put an end to the remote towers plan which will damage island communities and totally undermines the Islands Act.”

Control tower and apron, Benbecula Airport by David Martin

Prospect Air Traffic Controllers at HIAL are currently in dispute with the employer over plans to  centralise air traffic control services in Inverness. This would mean the loss of high value jobs from highland and island economies.

The industrial action currently includes: work to rosters; overtime ban; refusal of extensions except for search and rescue, emergency and medical flights; refusal to commence training of new controllers not within the business on the date of the commencement of the ballot on the 30th of November 2020.

To facilitate democracy and the counting of votes from the islands, which are transported by plane to the mainland in some areas once polls close, Prospect members have agreed to lift the overtime ban for flights carrying ballot papers. This means air traffic controllers will be free to work late on the usual voluntary basis.

Image Credit Bell

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