Agenda and draft minutes

Electoral Provisions Sub-Committee - Wednesday 17 September 2014 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room B12. View directions

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Cannon and Read.


Declarations of Interests

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the term(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or Managing Director.


There were no declarations of interests.


Minutes of the meeting held on 11 June 2014 pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To note and agree the minutes of the meeting held on 11 June 2014.


The minutes of the meeting of the Sub-committee held on 11 June 2014 were agreed as an accurate record.


Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.


There were no urgent items.


Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2014 pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To report the responses received from the public consultation exercise carried out as part of the review of the polling districts and polling places in the Dartford constituency area and to make recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly of the Council on 6 October 2014.

Additional documents:


The Member Services Manager reminded the Sub-committee that under the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 there was a requirement to hold full statutory reviews of Polling Districts and Polling Places every five years. The current review was nearing completion and Members were asked to consider the outcome of the public consultation exercise carried out in July and early August, the (Acting) Returning Officer’s final comments and proposals and to formulate recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly of the Council on 6 October 2014.


Members were also reminded of the matters considered by the Sub-committee at its last meeting on 11 June 2014 and in particular the issues relating to the polling stations located at the Methodist Church Hall (Sutton-at-Hone Polling District (MB)) and the temporary mobile unit located in New Barn West Polling District (IC) at the junction of Nuthatch and Shearwater and the reasons which it had been proposed to continue to use these locations. The Sub-committee had also agreed to the principle of polling places being defined as a geographical zone of 250 metres from the current location of each permanent polling station. These proposals were included in the public consultation document. Any member of the public and any interested organisation had been able to participate in the consultation exercise and the Council had also written to a number of organisations with expertise or experience of accessibility for the disabled as part of the consultation along with local political parties, the local MP, Town and Parish Councils and Sevenoaks District Council (part of which was in the Dartford parliamentary constituency) and Kent County Council and other stakeholders.


A total of ten responses had been received of which three were merely acknowledgements of the invitation to comment, four had not proposed any changes (including Kent County Council and Sevenoaks District Council) and three had objected to the location of two polling stations within the proposed polling places. The responses were detailed in the appendices to the report.   The Sub-committee considered the issues raised by the respondents relating to the location of mobile polling units at the amenity area opposite Betsham House (Southfleet West Polling District (IB)) and at the junction of Nuthatch and Shearwater (New Barn West Polling District (IC)).


In respect of the use of the amenity area opposite Betsham House a strong objection had been made by the owner of the property which was immediately adjacent to the mobile unit on the grounds that the position of the unit and associated portaloo was disruptive and invasive, and in relation to the noise and pollution associated with using a generator and external lighting during the European elections. The respondent had suggested an alternative location on the car park across the road by a BT phone box. A second respondent had also objected to the positioning of the mobile unit as she felt that it obscured vision to the right at the road junction when wishing to turn left at the crossroad towards Southfleet station. It  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Individual Electoral Registration - Update

To provide an oral update on the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration.


The Sub-committee received an update on progress with the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) in Dartford.


Members were reminded of the background to the introduction of IER which was the most fundamental change to electoral registration processes for a century and would require everyone to register individually in future and to provide their name, date of birth and national insurance number. These details would have to be successfully verified against data held by the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) before a person could be added to the electoral register and where this data did not match or was not provided the applicant would have to supply certain documentation to verify their identity before they could be registered.


In order to make this process easier for most people each local authority had submitted the data held on its current electoral register in June/July to the DWP and where entries matched information held by DWP these electors were automatically transferred across to the transitional electoral register and would not have to take any further action. In Dartford’s case it had been possible to transfer 67,514 voters in this way by confirming their information with DWP or by matching locally held data. Unfortunately 6,384 people had not been confirmed and had been invited to register under the new system. Where people had not been transferred to the new register and had failed to re-register they would not be removed from the electoral register until December 2015 but would lose their existing entitlement to a postal or proxy vote. This would ensure that nobody who had previously been registered, with the exception of people who had failed to respond to the annual household canvass in the previous year (carry-forwards), would be removed from the register before the May 2015 elections.


The Sub-committee was reminded that the introduction of IER was a particularly challenging project because of the scale and fundamental nature of the change, and the very tight timetable. The decision to go-ahead with IER had only received ministerial approval in December 2013 and much of the secondary legislation and guidance had not been made until Spring 2014 and changes to electoral management software were being made and tested up until the IER go-live date and were unproven. IER also required more extensive issuing of letters and forms to confirm every aspect of the registration process and to chase non-responders. The wording on most of these forms was prescribed by the Government as was the A3 format of the main forms, Household Enquiry Forms (HEF’s) and Invitation to Register Forms (ITR’s). The content of these forms was only finalised a few weeks before going live.


Given these factors, and that administrators would be implementing fundamentally different and new processes, it was always known that the transition to IER would be challenging and difficult. There was also concern that the grant provided to local authorities by Government would be insufficient to fully fund the introduction of IER and the ongoing additional costs. One  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.