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Election count preparations for Ross-shire constituencies under way to ensure venues are Covid-safe

By Hector MacKenzie

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Highland Council chief executive Donna Manson is the returning officer for the election. A full risk assessment has been carried out to help comply with Covid guidelines.
Highland Council chief executive Donna Manson is the returning officer for the election. A full risk assessment has been carried out to help comply with Covid guidelines.

WORK has started to ensure lection count venues are Covid-safe ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary poll on May 6.

Three separate count centres will be used to abide by government guidelines as the election comes amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis

Work began yesterday on the erection of marquees at Queens Park, adjacent to Inverness Leisure, for the Scottish Parliamentary election count.

Preparations are also been made in Dingwall for a count at the Highland Football Academy which will be closed for 10 days.

Donna Manson, constituency and regional returning officer for Highland said: “We have carried out a full assessment of the requirements to provide safe election counts during the pandemic. Following consultation with the Electoral Management Board, Regional Returning Officers within the Highlands and Islands, and unions, we concluded that three count centres are absolutely required to provide Covid-safe counting centres in order to follow government guidelines and maintain required social distancing.

“We have been working very closely with our partners High Life Highland to provide safe and secure count centres in these very difficult times. High Life Highland have been engaging with their service users.”

Douglas Wilby, High Life Highland’s director of sport and leisure said: “We have contacted the various clubs and organisations that would usually use the sports centre and while most of them normally suspend their activities for election counts, we are happy to work them to try to find alternatives where possible given the unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves.

“I understand that the Highland Council considered other venues, but due to the Covid-safe and increased security requirements needed for this particular election count, Inverness Leisure was the only venue that was able to accommodate those needs and as a partner organisation, HLH was happy to assist.”

The main marquee at Queen's Park will be used as the count centre for the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency. An additional marquee is also being erected to enable a socially distanced staff support facility. This arrangement also provides enhanced site security, which is essential for the count, as well as a Covid-safe environment.

Inverness and Nairn constituency will be counted in the Inverness Leisure main sports hall – and the Highland Football Academy in Dingwall will be the count centre for the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross constituency.

Queen's Park athletics track is closed to the public now until May 12. The sports halls in Inverness Leisure will be closed to the public on May 3 in preparation for the ballot boxes arriving when polling stations around the Highlands close on Thursday, May 6. The gym will be closed on May 7 and will re-open on Sunday, May 9. The other indoor facilities will re-open on Monday, May 10.

The temporary restrictions do not apply to the swimming pools which will remain open throughout.

The Highland Football Academy, another HLH facility, will also be used for the election count. The location will close to the public on April 30 and reopen on May 10.

Coverage of the election

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