UK News General election: Boats on standby to collect ballot boxes from Scottish islands in case bad weather hits on polling day

13:16  07 december  2019
13:16  07 december  2019 Source:   scotsman.com

Arctic bubble weather front in Scotland could freeze out General Election voters

  Arctic bubble weather front in Scotland could freeze out General Election voters The elderly and disabled may struggle to get to polling stations as experts predict the country will be trapped in snow and ice for up to 40 days. Temperatures are expected to plummet to as low as -14C (7F) as a 1100-mile wide weather front envelops the nation and threatens travel disruption on the day of the vote. There were warnings before the election was called that a December date could leave the elderly and disabled struggling to get to polling stations. On a visit to Scotland, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed serious concerns in an interview with the Sunday Mail in October.

Unlike Orkney, where only voters on the main island can vote on polling day , with those on outer islands reliant on postal votes, every inhabited island in the Western Isles This has required special arrangements for their collection , however; ballot boxes from Barra will travel by boat to Eriskay

A general election campaign over Christmas period is fraught with potential hazards. MPs, council officials and election experts agree the biggest test will come on polling day : bad weather A bad winter flu bug could see a high dropout rate in polling station staff, who are paid the minimum wage

Boats will be on standby to collect ballot boxes from islands across Scotland once polls close on Thursday in case bad weather grounds the helicopters normally used for the task.

a person standing in front of a laptop © Provided by The Scotsman

As Scotland prepares for the first general election to be held in the winter since 1974, councils are finalising contingency plans to ensure the democratic process runs smoothly no matter the weather.

While forecasts predict a typically dreich day in most parts of the country when the 4,710 polling stations open at 7am on 12 December, nothing is being left to chance.

When voting finishes at 10pm, returning officers on islands such as Gigha and Coll will wait for one of the two helicopters employed by Argyll and Bute Council to collect their ballot boxes.

Cold snap set to hit UK in time for election day

  Cold snap set to hit UK in time for election day A cold snap is due to hit Britain just in time for election day on December 12. Meteorologists at the Met Office have predicted a wintry spell will arrive during election week, covering the UK in frost and seeing temperatures plunge to sub-zero in some areas. The long-term forecast also suggests snowfall in Scotland and the Pennines, with the rest of the UK to be hit by blustery winds and freezing fog. Nicola Maxey told Yahoo News UK: “There is a chance we may see colder weather, with potential for that to develop into Thursday and bring snow.“However, that would likely be confined to the hills and mountains of northern England.

Mr Waiton, who is standing in Dundee West, said it was "time for the voice of the people to be heard loud and clear" and highlighted minimum alcohol pricing and the smacking ban as policies which had enjoyed widespread support from Scottish politicians Where do the other parties stand on Brexit?

Scotland 's councils are facing up to the first winter general election for 45 years. It's their job to provide polling places and organise counts in their areas. Authorities covering islands often have complex logistical operations to get the ballot boxes to counts - perhaps using boats or helicopters.

But skippers will also be ready to take to the seas and collect island votes the

old-fashioned way if the unpredictable weather means choppers cannot take to the skies.

Argyll and Bute covers some 2,668 square miles but returns just a single MP, reflecting the region’s sparse population of around 86,000.

The ballots collected from 125 polling stations will be taken to the Mid Argyll Sports Centre in Lochgilphead, where the first counting will begin not long after 10pm.

The council told The Scotsman that a range of contingency plans were in place in case of bad weather.

The authority’s fleet of 4x4 vehicles would be deployed if necessary, while additional polling and count staff are on call.

Scots expect bad weather in December and experts said it was unlikely they would be put off doing their democratic duty by a dark and blustery day.

Crane snaps in half as strong winds batter Britain ahead of polling day washout

  Crane snaps in half as strong winds batter Britain ahead of polling day washout A crane partially collapsed on Tuesday as strong winds lashed much of the country. Pictures from a building site on Fassett Road, south London, show the top of the crane snapped and bent out of shape, looming over the ground below. The incident is not thought to have caused any injuries. It was previously thought that Tuesday would bring Storm Brendan to the shores of the UKbut the Met Office said there will not be enough of an impact from winds to warrant a storm name. © Provided by Yahoo! News UK The scene at Fassett Road in south London, where a crane partially collapsed on a building site.

Ballot boxes from Barra will travel by boat to Eriskay, where they will be driven across the causeway to South Uist and then onto North Uist. “It was looking a bit dodgy earlier, certainly,” said a spokesman, adding that the council had a boat on standby in case the chartered plane would be

Speaking earlier in the election campaign, polling guru Professor John Curtice said: "Brexit is so important to voters that a spot of bad There is also a warning in place over an increased risk of wintry showers further north. The forecast adds that strong winds could hit the UK and be worst in the south.

“Local councils in Scotland have significant experience of providing public services throughout the year,” a spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said.

Highland Council, which covers one third of Scotland’s land area, said it was well prepared for all eventualities.

A spokeswoman said: “For a winter count, we have switched venues from Dingwall football academy to the Inverness Leisure Centre as it is easier to heat.”

She added: “We have made preparations to increase gritting around polling stations and to provide lighting, in the event of power cuts, to ensure safe access and egress by voters and election staff.”

The last time a general election was called in December was 1923.

The Conservatives, led by Stanley Baldwin, won the most seats.

However, Labour, led by Ramsay MacDonald, and the reunited Liberals gained enough seats to produce a hung parliament.

Ben Page, the chief executive of market research firm Ipsos Mori, said: “In terms of winter elections, we only really have February 1974 to go on.

“Then the weather was bad, but the turnout (79 per cent) was high, and up on 1970.

“By contrast, for the Blair 1997 landslide, temperatures rose to the mid-20s, but turnout (71 per cent) was down on 1992.

“Other factors – such as the perceived importance and closeness of the election – are likely to play at least as big a part as the weather.”

General Election 2019: UK heads to the polls for third election in five years .
Polling booths have opened across Scotland as voters head to ballot boxes in what has been billed as the most important General Election in a generation. © Provided by The Scotsman Voters across the UK will head to the ballot box on Thursday for the third general election since 2015. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm, with results expected from the early hours of Friday.

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