A DISABILITY rights campaigner has called for a Gourock polling station to be changed because he believes it is not suitable for people with mobility problems.
Chris Robertson – the former manager of Inverclyde Council on Disability – criticised the use of Gourock Club Club for the recent council elections and says it should not be used for the general election on June 8.
Mr Robertson, who is a member of the club, said he raised his concerns with the council’s election office before the local authority poll, but did not receive a response.
He said: “This is no criticism of the golf club, but a criticism of those who thought it was suitable as a substitute polling station for Moorfoot Primary while it’s being refurbished.
“It would be much better to use either Kirn Drive Community Centre or Royal Gourock Yacht Club.”
Mr Robertson pointed out that the golf club car park is on a slope, which he believes makes it difficult for people in a wheelchair or who have difficulty walking.
There are 13 steps up to the main entrance into the reception area, which served as a polling station.
He said: “This would be impossible to negotiate for someone with a disability, so they had to go around the back of the club to get into the polling station. Getting in this way involved going up a slope and then in past the locker rooms, where people could have been coming out of showers with only a towel draped around them, and through a narrow doorway which was unsuitable for a wheelchair.”
Once into the reception area/polling station, he said golf club members would have been walking in and out all day past people who were voting.
Mr Robertson said: “There is such a thing as the sanctity of a polling station. This one was too public an area.
“This is the first time Gourock Golf Club has been used for an election, but I don’t think it should be used again.”
Mr Robertson added: “It is the polling inspector’s job to make sure polling stations are suitable. This one is not suitable.”
A council spokesman said Gourock Golf Club is the only venue within the polling district that can be used as a polling station.
He said: “Everything possible was done to accommodate disabled voters, and staff received special training to make sure every single vote made it into the ballot box.
“There were no complaints on the day of the council elections from voters and, thanks to the hard work of staff and club members, polling day passed smoothly.”
He added: “Anyone who is concerned about accessing the polling station for the general election next month can apply for a postal vote, a postal proxy vote or a proxy vote.”
The deadline for applications for a postal vote or a postal proxy is 5pm on Tuesday May 23.
The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm on May 31.