Council concern at axing of Ballintoy polling station

MOYLE Council is to write to electoral chiefs expressing concern about the withdrawal of a polling station from Ballintoy.

Voters will now have to travel to Ramoan Presbyterian Church Hall at 143 Moyarget Road, Ballycastle, to cast their votes.

Speaking at a meeting of Moyle Council, Ulster Unionist councillor Helen Harding, said: “I was not aware until very recently that it has been decided to not have a polling station in Ballintoy.”

Independent councillor Padraig McShane said the matter had been raised.

Cllr Harding added: “I think it is a very bad decision. There are upwards of 300 people who use that polling station.”

She asked the Council to send a letter expressing concern.

Council Chairperson, Independent Price McConaghy, said: “I didn’t even know it was withdrawn.”

Cllr McShane and Ulster Unionist councillor Willie Graham supported the comments made by Cllr Harding.

Chief Electoral Officer Graham Shields told the Times: “A Polling Station Scheme Review for Northern Ireland was published on 31 January 2011, following a period of public consultation which ended on 23 December 2010.

“The review is a legislative requirement and takes place every five years. One of the decisions taken as a consequence of the review was that the polling station at Ballintoy should close. This decision was made on the basis that there were only 280 or so electors in the Balintoy area and the optimum number of electors at a polling station in Northern Ireland is between 1000 and 1200.

“This being the case, I could not properly say that the provision of a polling station in Ballintoy was ‘necessary’, as the relevant electoral law requires me to.”

Section 65(6) Electoral Law (NI) Act 1962 states: ‘The Chief Electoral Officer may for the purpose of any particular election omit or add to the polling stations designated in the polling station scheme such station or stations as he considers necessary’.