Councillor Mrs Macpherson
Leader of the Council and Chairman of the General Purposes Committee
To consider the attached report.
Contact Officer: Craig Saunders (01296) 585043
The Committee received a report that informed Members that The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 had introduced a change to the timing of compulsory reviews of UK Parliamentary polling districts and polling places. All local authorities needed to conduct their review every five years and had to conduct this review between 1 October 2018 – 31 January 2020. The Returning Officer had the power to make variations to the current arrangements after consultation which enabled any issues that arose between the statutory reviews to be addressed.
Polling Districts were the areas created by the division of a constituency, ward, or division into smaller parts, within which a polling place can be determined which is convenient to electors. A Polling Place was the building or area in which a poll takes place and will be selected by the Returning Officer. A Polling Station was the actual room or building where the poll takes place.
The review had not covered the boundaries of District Wards, Parishes, County Divisions or Parliamentary Constituencies which followed separate processes.
Members were informed that the Council had now completed consultation for the review and the updated Schedules of Polling Districts and Polling Places final recommendations were submitted as final recommendations to be forwarded for approval to Council on 23 October 2019. This would then enable Electoral Registers to be published on 1 December 2019 to reflect the new arrangements.
During the first stage of the review all Members, Town and Parish Councils, political parties, the County Council, disabled access groups and residents of Aylesbury Vale had been given the opportunity to comment on existing polling arrangements and make initial representations that they wished to be taken into consideration when developing the draft proposals.
Additionally, various disabled access groups had been notified at this stage and invited to comment on the review and advise their contacts of it. Existing booking agents at polling stations had also been contacted and asked to complete a questionnaire regarding polling station accessibility.
Following Stage 1, the General Purposes Committee had recommended that the following be formally consulted on during the second stage of the review:-
Stoke Mandeville: Stoke Mandeville Village – that the Stoke Mandeville Methodist Church (Eskdale Road) was a more suitable polling place as the current facility (Stoke Mandeville Village Community Centre) was heavily used by the community. Consultation to be pursued in relation to the use of the Methodist Church with the existing polling place being retained as an alternative option.
Members were informed that the Stoke Mandeville Village Community Centre had been used as the Polling Place / Polling Station for this area for a number of years. The Stoke Mandeville Methodist Church was located nearby and was a 2-3 minutes walk from the Community Centre. Whilst the Community Centre was still fit to be the Polling Station and it would be possible to retain it as a backup option, the Methodist Church was central to a good part of the estate that would vote there. It had good vehicular access off Eskdale Road and could be reached on foot by many residents. There was a car park on site.
No representations had been received during the second stage of the formal consultations.
Council Officers had visited and confirmed that the Stoke Mandeville Methodist Church would be a suitable venue for a polling place as it was centrally located in the Stoke Mandeville Village Ward, and the building had good facilities for voters and polling staff. However, there was the possibility that there could be a change in ownership of the church in the future and, as such, it was recommended that the Stoke Mandeville Village Community Centre should be retained as a backup option, should be church be unavailable.
The Committee was informed that attached at Appendix A was the Schedule of Polling Places for the Aylesbury Constituency and at Appendix B was the Schedule of Polling Places for the Buckingham Constituency. Appendix C was a summary of Proposed Changes to Polling Stations.
(1) That it be noted that no representations had been received on the Stoke Mandeville: Stoke Mandeville Village Polling Place during the second stage of public consultation.
(2) That Council be recommended to approve the Schedules of Polling Districts and Polling Place for the Aylesbury and Buckingham Constituencies attached as Appendices A and B to the report, incorporating the changes in relation to Stoke Mandeville Village.