Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ways to vote; in person, by post or by proxy

There are several significant 'electoral events' on the imminent horizon ...

... details here, and re-produced below, outlining all you need to know about how to cast your vote:

Ways to vote

Vote in person, by post or by proxy

Most people choose to vote in person on the day of the election at their polling station. If you are not able to vote in person you can apply
  • to vote by post
  • for someone to vote on your behalf, known as a proxy vote.

Deadlines for upcoming elections

You can register to vote at any time.
The deadline to be register for the Scottis Election was Monday 18 April. 
    If you are registered, you can apply for a new proxy vote until 5pm on Tuesday 26 April.
    The deadline to register for the EU referendum is Tuesday 7 June. 

    Postal voting

    You need to apply for a postal vote(external link) if you want to vote by post.
    If your address has changed since you applied, you will need to
    If you are resident in Scotland but voting from abroad, remember it will take time for your voting pack to reach you, and for you to send it back. If you are applying close to polling day, you may find it easier to apply for a proxy vote instead.

    Proxy voting

    If you are not able to vote in person or by post then you can apply to vote by proxy(external link). This means you can ask someone to go to a polling station and vote for you. Your proxy can also apply to vote by post, if you apply early enough.
    You must apply for a proxy vote in advance - it is illegal for someone to vote for you if you have not been granted a proxy vote.

    Emergency proxy

    If you have a medical or work emergency, you can apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day. More information about how to apply for an emergency proxy will be available closer to the time of the election.

    Friday, April 29, 2016

    Allan Park appeal dismissed

    Was very pleased to hear that the Principal Inquiry Reporter, from the 'Planning and Environmental Appeals Division', has - earlier today - dismissed the developers appeal and refused to grant planning permission in Allan Park :-)

    The full detail/decision can be accessed via this link, and clicking on 'open document'.

    Absolutely delighted for all in the 'Allan Park Residents Association' and the local area :-))

    Schools to begin opening next month as full remediation programme outlined

    Update, as below, on local schools ...

    ... & please do continue to keep an eye on the following two links over coming weeks, which will be updated on a regular basis with further details/adjustments:

    Schools to begin opening next month as full remediation programme outlined

    Three schools affected by the recent closures are to reopen next month once full remediation work has been completed, the City of Edinburgh Council has announced.
    The Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP), who manage and operate the schools on behalf of the Council, has updated officers on their completion dates for remediation works. 
    Pupils will return to Oxgangs Primary, St Peter’s Primary and Braidburn School by Tuesday 24 May (Monday is a holiday), with Firrhill High School due to fully reopen by Monday 6 June.  S1 and S2 pupils from Firrhill will meantime return to their own school, from Edinburgh Napier University’s Craiglockhart Campus, on Tuesday (3 May) when senior year pupils go on exam leave. 
    Two further schools, Royal High and Drummond Community High, are expected to reopen fully by Monday 20 June with Broomhouse Primary and St Joseph’s Primary schools expected to reopen by Monday 27 June.
    This means that over 4,000 pupils will be back in their schools before the end of the summer term.
    The Council is working closely with ESP on the programme which gives indicative dates for schools to reopen which are reasonable assumptions based on the programme of works. If it is possible to bring forward these dates then the Council and ESP will do this and parents will be updated as soon as possible.
    Edinburgh Schools Partnership has confirmed that the remediation works required on the remaining nine schools will see them all reopen by Monday 8 August at the latest, ahead of the pupils returning from holiday on Wednesday 17 August. 
    Goodtrees Community Centre is expected to reopen on Monday 15 August.
    In the interim, alternative arrangements will remain in place with Council officers continuing to monitor and make adjustments as required. Buses for Craigmount pupils will arrive at an earlier time next week so the school day can be extended.
    The full remediation programme is subject to the Council receiving satisfactory quality assurances from Edinburgh Schools Partnership, and contractors carrying out remedial works on their behalf, and the Council receiving appropriate safety assurances and checks this work is of the required standard to ensure the safety of children. 
    The Council has stipulated that a number of stringent measures must be met before the schools can reopen and these will be made available to parents via the Council website.
    Council Leader Andrew Burns said: “Being able to reopen three schools next month and a further five in June is a positive step forward and means over 4,000 pupils should be back in their schools before the end of the summer term.
    “The planned programme of remediation works from Edinburgh Schools Partnership gives everyone a clearer picture of when schools will reopen and I am sure parents will welcome the news.  I want to again thank all those affected by the closures, for their patience during this period of uncertainty.
     “The safety of our children is our number one priority and we all want our schools to reopen safely, as soon as possible. We will continue to work with ESP and their partners to ensure all work and quality checks are completed, so we can update parents as quickly with information about their schools. If we are able to bring forward reopening dates then we will do so.
    “I would like to thank all school staff and colleagues across the Council for their continued support, professionalism and commitment.  This has been a challenging time and the way everyone has pulled together, both in the closed and receiving schools, has been exceptional. Everyone is working together to minimise the impact on our children.”
    Head teachers will continue to keep parents of pupils at their schools updated regularly on current arrangements and any changes that are made. 
    Details will also be published on the Council website ( and via the Council Twitter @Edinburgh_CC.
    • Seventeen schools were closed on Monday 11 April which affects 7,600 primary and secondary pupils and 740 nursery pupils.
    • All exam candidates were accommodated in educational arrangements by Wednesday 13 April.
    • All 344 Drummond Community High School pupils were back in their school on 14 April and 1,237 Royal High School pupils returned to their school on 19 April.
    • Today’s announcement means 890 pupils are set to return to their own schools by 24 May with another 500 returning to their schools on 27 June.
    • This brings the total of pupils expected to be back in their schools before the end of the summer term to 4,060.

    Thursday, April 28, 2016

    Edinburgh counts down to the Scottish Parliament Election 2016

    The area of the count venue - Highland Hall at the Royal Highland Centre ...
    ... is bigger than the size of a professional football pitch ;-)

    With just one week to go until the Scottish Parliament Election 2016, Edinburgh is gearing up to run its own part in the vote.
    Preparations are already well underway across the city’s polling places and count venue, while training is in progress for staff working on the day and the first postal votes are being processed.

    And though registration for the electoral roll is now closed, citizens are still being urged to think carefully about their vote, and to ensure they know when, where and how to vote on Thursday, 5 May.

    Edinburgh’s Returning Officer Andrew Kerr said: “We are entering the final days of preparation for the Scottish Parliament Election and anticipation is clearly beginning to build across the city.

    “Running an election in the Capital is no mean feat, and it’s thanks to a great deal of organisation and the hard work of our Election Team and thousands of election staff that things go to plan.

    “As we draw nearer to the day, I hope the public are making their own plans for voting, and ensuring they know when, where and how to have their say by checking the Council website while remembering to add one cross on each paper on the day.”

    Postal voters are encouraged to return their votes as soon as possible to ensure they meet the deadline.

    Find out more about voting in Edinburgh online.

    As we count down the seven days until the election, we're counting up some of the key facts about Edinburgh’s vote.

    • 366,000: the approximate number of people registered to vote in the Scottish Parliament Election 2016 – around 70,000 of these are postal voters.  This is the first Parliamentary election where 16 and 17-year-olds have been able to vote.

    • There are six constituencies in Edinburgh – Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh Eastern, Edinburgh Northern & Leith, Edinburgh Pentlands, Edinburgh Southern and Edinburgh Western. The Lothian Region also includes the three constituencies Almond Valley, Linlithgow and Midlothian North & Musselburgh.

    • There are 27 individual candidates standing across Edinburgh’s constituencies.  Nine parties are contesting the seven seats available for the Lothian Region, with a total of  67 candidates involved.

    • 145 buildings will be used as polling places on Thursday, 5 May, housing 356 polling stations.  Each station will have two ballot boxes – one for the lilac Constituency paper and one for the peach coloured Region paper.   

    • This year, the Council will employ over 1000 polling staff to assist the public to cast their vote – with one presiding officer and at least one polling assistant in each polling station. On the night of the count, there will be another 1200 count staff tallying votes.

    • 8526m² – the area of the count venue - Highland Hall at the Royal Highland Centre. This is bigger than the size of a professional football pitch. 

    • The Edinburgh turnout for the UK General Election last year was 73.01%, with 261,165 votes cast. For the Scottish Referendum in 2014, Edinburgh saw a record 84% turnout, with almost320,000 people casting their votes.

    • Amongst the equipment used across polling places during the day will be approximately 700yellow post-its, 500 black bin bags, 145 sets of pliers and 1068 fingerettes.

    • This is the first Parliamentary election in which 16 and 17-year-olds have been able to vote, after the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill was passed last year.

    • Edinburgh counts for around 8.7% of Scotland’s electorate – second behind Glasgow.

    • Three different types of polling booths are used in Edinburgh – aluminium, wood and cardboard.

    • Polls open at 7am on Thursday 5th May and close at 10pm.

    Find out how, where and when to vote in the Scottish Parliament Election 2016.

    Friday, April 22, 2016

    Edinburgh School closures - update/s

    Some further updates on both 'exam arrangements' and also on 'survey results' are now available via the main section of the Council Website ...

    ... I'll additionally just re-produce the text of the two, related News Releases below.

    And a quick reminder that a further detailed Report, including the issue of an independent Inquiry, will all come back to the next meeting of the Council's "Corporate, Policy & Strategy Committee" on Tuesday 17th May - see earlier post (and links therein) here.


    Exam arrangements in place

    Alternative arrangements for pupils sitting exams next month, and who are affected by the recent school closures, have been drawn up by the City of Edinburgh Council.
    The contingency plans have been put together as exams start in the first week of May. 
    All pupils will be sitting their exams in the schools where they are currently attending.
    The arrangements are:
    • Royal High, Drummond and Firrhill pupils will use their schools
    • Gracemount and Craigmount will be sitting their exams at their host schools of Liberton and Tynecastle respectively
    Individual schools will update pupils and parents regarding their specific arrangements. 
    Over the past week the Council has had very positive discussions with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) about exams and the contingency arrangements.
    Education Convener Councillor Paul Godzik said: “With the first exams only a few weeks away it is absolutely vital that we have these plans in place and pupils are given notice as to where they will be sitting their exams.
    “Pupils have enough to do with their studying preparations without additional worry over where they may be sitting them. Despite the hugely challenging situation the Council have tried to ensure our pupils are given every chance to prepare properly and that as far as possible they are not impacted by the school closures.  
    “We will be outlining in detail to the SQA the arrangements we have put in place and how this has affected pupils, as well as providing additional study support to pupils where we feel this is necessary.”
    Jean Blair, SQA Director of Operations, said: "Clearly our primary concern is for all the young people involved. We continue to work closely with City of Edinburgh Council and the individual schools to support them in the practical arrangements for the exams, which begin on Wednesday 4 May. 
    “The national timetable of exams will continue as planned and pupils should continue with their studies in preparation to sit their exams on the dates in the published exam timetable."
    The programme of structural surveys arranged by the Edinburgh Schools Partnership is continuing. Parents will be provided with further information on individual school surveys once the full reports are received and assessed.
    Find out more about school closures on the Council website.

    Update on school closures not expected until end of next week

    The City of Edinburgh Council has confirmed it is now not expecting to receive details of when the PPP1 schools will be available for pupils until the end of next week.
    Chief Executive Andrew Kerr said he was disappointed by the lack of survey results from the Edinburgh Schools Partnership who operate and manage the schools on behalf of the Council and who are responsible for undertaking the required repairs.

    He said: “We have been in constant dialogue with the Edinburgh Schools Partnership, and they are aware of our concerns.  It is important that we have clear information regarding the condition of these schools, and when they will be safe to reopen.

    “I know that parents, teachers and pupils will share my frustration at this delay. The safety of our children is our number one priority and we all want our schools to reopen safely, as soon as possible. 

    “We are doing everything we can so ESP can provide the Council with the information which will allow us to make a decision regarding the next steps.”

    The schools were closed on Monday 11 April and affect 7,600 primary and secondary pupils and 740 nursery pupils.