Agenda and draft minutes

Electoral Provisions Sub-Committee - Thursday 24 November 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room B12. View directions

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Barham, Edie, Kelly and Swinerd.


Councillor Oliver attended as a substitute for Councillor Kelly.



Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of Grants of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or the Chief Officer and Director of Corporate Services.



There were no declarations of interest received.


Confirmation of the Minutes of the meeting held on 30 June 2022 pdf icon PDF 281 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Electoral Provisions Sub-Committee held on 30 June 2022 were agreed as an accurate record.


The Electoral Services Manager (ESM) confirmed the Swanscombe Town Ward Community Governance Review (CGR) had been approved by the Local Government Boundary Commission England (LGBCE) and the Council had sealed the order. The change for the Ebbsfleet and Swanscombe wards so that they become conterminous had also been approved by the LGBCE however this order had yet to be sealed. This will generate a new small interim polling district in the Swanscombe Ward.



Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce if there are any urgent items and their position on the Agenda.


It was reported that there were no urgent matters for the Sub Committee to consider.


References from other Committees


It was noted that no matters had been referred to the Sub Committee for consideration.


Parliamentary Boundary Review 2023 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To consider the revised proposals from the Boundary Commission for England 2023 Review for the Dartford Constituency and approve the Council’s response to the four-week consultation.


Additional documents:


The Electoral Services Manager presented a report to consider the revised proposals from the Boundary Commission for England 2023 Review for the Dartford Constituency.


The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) is an independent and impartial non-departmental public body, which is responsible for reviewing Parliamentary constituency boundaries in England and has been conducting a review (2023 Review) of all the parliamentary constituencies in England.


On 8 November 2022, the BCE published its revised proposals for new constituency boundaries for England and commenced a four-week public consultation period, ending 5 December 2022.


The rules for the 2023 Review required that every recommended constituency across the UK, must have an electorate that is no smaller than 69,724 and no larger than 77,062. The current Dartford Constituency takes in part of Sevenoaks District and is now significantly larger than the maximum electorate permitted.  The Parliamentary electorate in the Borough of Dartford, without the Sevenoaks electorate, as at the 1 September 2022, is 77,850.  This is already larger than the permitted electorate figure and left no provision for the population growth expected in the Borough due to development.


Unlike the current arrangement, the BCE proposal stated Dartford would give Sevenoaks part of their electorate, instead of taking in the area of Hodsall Street and Hartley.It was stressed the proposal took the Sevenoaks Parliamentary constituency into the heart of Dartford and it was noted the electorate may struggle with its new identity to the neighbouring borough, especially as it remains as Dartford at a local borough level.


The General Assembly of the Council considered the BCE’s initial proposals on 26 July 2021 [Min. No. 34] where it supported the alternative proposal put forward by the Electoral Provisions Sub-committee on 8 July 2021 [Min.No.6]. The alternative proposal was to split the Wilmington, Sutton-at-Hone and Hawley ward so that only part of it would be transferred to the Sevenoaks Constituency (WSH1 & WSH2). The remaining parts, WHS3 – 5 and Darenth Ward, would remain in the Dartford Constituency.  This proposal retained both the Dartford and Sevenoaks Constituency within the electorate threshold for the review.  These recommendations had not been incorporated into the revised BCE proposals.

The Sub-committee was asked to consider the draft response at Appendix B to the report and to grant delegated authority to the Chief Officer and Director of Corporate Services to submit the final response on behalf of Dartford Borough Council.


A member agreed with the draft response from DBC and noted his concerns with the original proposal as it did not take into account schools, parishes and the main road through Wilmington (Common Lane). He also noted residents are concerned as they do not have any shared identity with Sevenoaks. It was confirmed that whilst the ideal situation would be for the Dartford boundary to be conterminous the future growth of the Borough would not allow for this.


Another member stressed that whilst she agreed that the proposal was not ideal, there was no ideal solution and that the DBC proposal was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Election Act

To receive an oral update of the Election Act in preparation for the May 2023 Local Elections.



The Electoral Services Manager gave a presentation highlighting the changes contained in the Elections Act 2022 and the challenges that these will present on the delivery of the Local Elections in May 2023 and other future elections. The points raised included:


  • The polls impacted by the Elections Act would include UK parliamentary elections, local elections, Police & Crime Commissioner elections and referenda;


  • ID will be required for all voters on polling day. The most common acceptable ID would be a passport, driving licence (with photo), immigration documents and PASS cards. Kent County Council bus passes for the older person and other bus passes were also likely to be accepted such as oyster cards. However younger person’s bus pass would not be accepted as they do not require the same verification process when applying;


  • Those who do not hold sufficient photographic ID will be able to apply for a ‘Voter Identification Document’. The deadline for these applications will be 6 days before the election and will be manually processed by Electoral Services staff via a central digital platform. If the predicted 4% of the electorate request these documents it is expected it would take a single member of staff 9½ weeks to process.


  • The requirement for private areas within polling stations to produce identification will prove challenging for mobile units or polling stations with limited space. There will however be mechanisms in place to counteract these issues, should they arise.


  • Only the presiding officer and poll clerk can inspect ID unless permitted by the elector. The presiding officer must refuse an elector a ballot paper if they have reasonable doubt the ID does not look like the elector or suspect the documents are forged. If refused this decision is final and cannot be questioned in any way.


  • The Electoral Commission (EC) will lead on public awareness. This will be set out in two phases. Raising awareness of the new requirement to bring ID across England and reminding voters in areas where elections are taking place to bring their ID with them when they vote. As London Boroughs do not have elections in May 2023 it has been raised this may be insufficient for residents of Dartford as many residents receive London based news stories.


  • It has been indicated that funding will not be provided for local campaigns however the Elections Team will be reviewing their Public Engagement Strategy and working with Autism South East, Choices, the Cohesion Council and relevant KCC Officers on local campaigns. The ‘Polling Station Passport’ has been created and is now live for those with disabilities who wish to decide what assistance they need before entering a polling station. All staff will be made aware of this document during normal training sessions provided.


  • Information for ID requirements will be printed on the poll cards sent out however this will also increase the size of the document to A4 and will be potentially enveloped.