Jo has criticised East Dunbartonshire Council for failing to provide information on disabled access to its polling stations.
All local authorities were required councils to carry out a review of the accessibility of their polling stations by the Electoral Administration Act of 2006. Disability charity Scope has collated the results of these reviews across the country, however East Dunbartonshire Council failed to respond to their Freedom of Information request. As a result, disabled people have been left in the dark as to the extent of disabled access to local polling stations in East Dunbartonshire.
At the last General Election, 68% of polling stations nationally had one or more serious access barriers that could prevent a disabled voter from voting independently.
Commenting, Jo said:
“For many of us voting is an exciting and important event, and one which we are privileged to have as our democratic right. I was dismayed to learn that so many polling stations across the country still aren’t accessible to disabled voters.
“I have written to the Council to ask that they provide information on the accessibility of local polling stations. East Dunbartonshire Council should be doing everything it can to ensure that disabled people are able to exercise their democratic right to vote in the way that they choose.”
The text of Jo’s letter to East Dunbartonshire Council appears below:
East Dunbartonshire Council
Tom Johnston House
Dear Mr Cornes,
You may be aware of Scope’s Polls Apart campaign – www.pollsapart.org.uk – which seeks to provide information on disabled access to polling stations across the country and to campaign for greater accessibility. It has come to my attention that despite a Freedom of Information request, East Dunbartonshire Council has not provided information to Scope on the accessibility of polling stations in East Dunbartonshire.
At the last General Election, 68% of polling stations nationally had one or more serious access barriers that could prevent a disabled voter from voting independently. Access barriers included steps with no ramp or alternative entrance, inadequate lighting, ballot boxes placed too high for wheelchair users to access and narrow and obstructed corridors.
Section 16 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 required all local authorities to review the accessibly of their polling stations, and it was the results of this review that Scope was seeking to obtain with its Freedom of Information request to East Dunbartonshire Council.
I would appreciate it if you would make the results of your review available to Scope and to me as soon as possible. I am also seeking your assurance that the Council will do everything possible to ensure that disabled people will be able to vote at local polling stations in the forthcoming General Election.
Thank you for your help with this important matter, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.