Concerns over closure of local electoral office

Doug Beattie MLA.''Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Doug Beattie MLA.''Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Concerns have been expressed over the impact the closure of the Electoral Office in Banbridge could have on Portadown voters.

And a local MLA has vowed the staff in his office will be ‘fully up to speed’ with the services lost so the can help when needed.

Doug Beattie MLA, along with the Lord Mayor, Julie Flaherty and Alderman Arnold Hatch Alderman expressed their concerns about the closure of the Banbridge electoral office and the effect it may have on individuals ability to vote particularly the most vulnerable in society.

The Ulster Unionist Party representatives said, “The closure of the Banbridge Electoral Office is a blow to electoral services in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area.

“It is true that online registration has been delivered since June 2018 and reduced budgets means that the Electoral Office Northern Ireland (EONI) needed to make difficult decisions and centralise services.

“However, this will feel to many that a key service has been taken out of the constituency area. It will have an impact on advice around voting, registering to vote, obtaining voting cards as well as registering for postal or proxy votes.

“There is also concern that as elected representatives we were not kept fully informed in respect to the closure of the Banbridge Office or the fate of the staff who worked there. It is understood that all staff now work out of the Belfast Office.

“It is now our intention to ensure the Portadown office staff are fully up to speed with the electoral services we have lost so they can help by giving advice when needed while at the same time elected representatives can, where needed, help complete electoral forms or seek advice on electoral issues . This help will include electoral surgeries in Portadown over the next three months to enable registration for the local government elections in May as well as general advice via telephone or email.”

“The ability to vote for who you want to represent you is one of the most important principles in any democratic country. All Ulster Unionist councillors on the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and the staff at the MLA constituency office will ensure none of the electorate is affected adversely by this closure.”