Bonnyrigg pupil writes letter to Midlothian Council leader over election closure of school

A Burnbrae Primary pupil has written to the leader of Midlothian Council to express her feelings about her school closing for the election.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 5:00 am
Seven year old Josslyn Miller with the letter she has sent to Cllr Derek Milligan.

Josslyn Miller (7) told Derek Milligan that she was “angry” at missing another day off school as it was used as a polling station. Given the amount of school time she has missed in the past year due to the pandemic, Josslyn said in her letter that “I don’t think it’s fair to have more time off”.

Josslyn’s mum, Lesley Ann Lockett, told the Advertiser that her daughter has really missed school this past year.

She said: “Josslyn is mainstream autistic and absolutely loves school.

"She has had enough of this Covid pandemic and just wants to be at school more.

"So I said ‘if you are so frustrated why don’t you write to the council leader?’ So she did and then posted it herself. We have not had a reply yet.

"She is quite academic and thrives on going to school.

"And she is right. Why is the school shut? They have got so many places they could open up to use as a polling station. The council could have organised for the kids to be in school.

"They knew this was happening. So they could have used another venue.

Council Leader Derek Milligan thanked Josslyn for her letter and said he would be replying to her directly.

However, as the council leader is not in charge of the elections, he has forwarded the letter to the Constituency Returning Officer for Midlothian, Dr Grace Vickers, who said: “I am delighted to hear Josslyn wants to be in school. I think speaking for local people across Midlothian, we can all share Josslyn’s frustrations that some schools, including Burnbrae, are not able to open on polling day to pupils.

“However, this is because of the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

"My priority must be to keep everyone safe so that means fully complying with all the extra safety measures agreed nationally by the UK governments and the Electoral Commission, the independent body that oversees elections.

“So while as a council we agreed back in March 2020, after a public consultation, to limit the number of schools used as polling places and to keep all schools open, including Burnbrae, on election day, this has just not been possible because of this pandemic.”​​​​​​​

Dr Vickers added: “I’d like to thank everyone, including Josslyn, pupils across the county and our wider communities, for adhering to the coronavirus guidance. With numbers of cases currently low, I’m extremely hopeful that when there’s another election next year, all schools will be open, as planned if at all possible.”

Lesley Ann revealed that her daughter sees a future for herself in politics.

She added: "She was so strongly opinionated on this subject.

"She will be the next Nicola Sturgeon, that’s what she wants to be when she is older. She wants to run Scotland and make things right.

"She talks to her twin brother about politics, I hear them a lot.

"And they say to me I need to vote for Nicola Sturgeon and not Boris Johnson as he is a bad guy.

"We obviously talk about it when politics comes up on the telly. She is quite interested and does know what she is talking about.

"So I just thought it was amazing that she wanted to send this letter.

"Josslyn gets on with her home learning but because she is autistic she does like school and would rather be there, so another day off for the elections makes her furious.”