Plans are in place to ensure that ballot boxes reach the General Election count centre in Stornoway on Thursday night (December 12th) – whatever the weather throws in the way.

Depute election officer Derek Mackay told that there is a ‘Plan B, C and D’ for bringing in the ballot boxes from Barra and the Uists, despite the time of year and the current level of weather disruption.

Thursday night’s Election count begins as polls close at 10pm, with ballot boxes from Lewis and Harris brought by road to Lewis Sports Centre, where a well-practiced count procedure will be supervised by returning officer Malcolm Burr.

A boat has been chartered to cross the Sound of Barra, with Barra’s ballot boxes then travelling by road to Benbecula airport, where they will join other boxes from around the Uists and Benbecula.

The single flight to Stornoway will then ensure that all votes cast in person by Western Isles electors are under one roof for the count to be completed. Postal votes from all other voters will already have been brought to the count centre, with a result ready for announcement around 1.30am on Friday 13th December.

If weather conditions make the flight from Benbecula impossible, a boat has also been chartered to be ready to make the crossing of the Sound of Harris, but Mr Mackay said that boats would only be used where it was safe to do so.

But, he added: “The forecast for the end of the week is looking better than the current situation, so we will be reviewing the plans on Wednesday when we have a shorter-term forecast and it is clearer what we may be dealing with.”