Electoral Registration Officer
105.1 The Corporate Manager for Democratic Services introduced the report and informed Council that the report was seeking approval from Council to adopt the polling districts and polling places as listed in Appendix A of the report. This followed a review of the South Suffolk parliamentary constituency that falls within the boundary of Babergh District Council.
105.2 Also contained in the report were details of the Electoral Registration Officers proposals for polling stations. These were for Council to note only, as it was the responsibility of the Acting Returning Officer to allocate polling stations at each election.
105.3 The review had been undertaken as a statutory requirement from the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013. Furthermore, the changes to the polling districts and polling places were required to take into account the changes to the Babergh District Council Changes Order 2018 following a review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.
105.4 Councillor Maybury MOVED the recommendations in the report which Councillor Holt SECONDED.
105.5 Councillor Cresswell asked how much was spent under the last boundaries and how much will be spent in terms of polling stations for the new ones?
105.6 In response the Monitoring Officer stated that she did not have that information as it would very much depend on any increases in charges for the polling stations that were levied for this year’s hire charge. Previously the Council had 85 polling stations, the recommendations were to reduce this as some only served a very small electorate where the turnout was really low, but she was not able to provide a comparator cost at this point in time.
105.7 Councillor Hurren asked how the consultation was undertaken as his residents had informed him, they knew nothing about the consultation.
105.8 In response the Corporate Manager for Democratic Services informed Council that all parish councillors were written to, all councillors and MP’s were informed and it was published on the web site with an on line survey that could be undertaken.
105.9 Councillor Arthey asked why the new village hall at Monks Eleigh was not being used, as being new, the village hall had ample parking, disabled facilities and was very accessible. He also asked at what point local democracy was outweighed by costs?
105.10 In response The Monitoring Officer stated that she would take away the points that had been raised and would ask the Acting Returning Officer to reconsider. As to the price of democracy, the Monitoring Officer as an elections professional said that democracy should come at any cost, however the Council did have to be realistic as each polling station could cost £1000 to run and when you had an electorate of 98 and you were looking at less than 50% turnout the cost per head did need to be taken into account. What was important was that the Acting Returning officer complied with the Electoral Commission’s Guidance, which talks about accessible polling stations that are reasonably located for electors, the guidance did not require you to have a polling station in every parish. All electors have the ability to apply for a postal vote, in this country, postal voting was available on demand so if electors were not able to get to their polling station they could vote by absent voting.
105.11 Councillor Arthey and Councillor Hurren raised further concerns relating to the Monks Eleigh polling station and the Milden polling station.
105.12 In response the Monitoring Officer informed Council that they were being asked to approve polling districts and polling places. The Returning Officer had the authority to designate polling stations, therefore there was still flexibility to change polling stations. Issues relating to polling stations could therefore be picked up outside of the meeting.
It was Resolved:-
That the polling districts and polling places as listed in Appendix A of the report be approved.