Agenda item

Polling district and polling place review (Report number: COU/WS/23/023)

Report number: COU/WS/23/023


Council considered this report, which principally sought approval for the amended scheme of polling districts and polling places within West Suffolk.


On 26 September 2023, Council agreed to undertake an interim review of polling places, as set out in section 2 of Report number: COU/WS/23/016.


The draft schedule of polling districts and polling places, which was included at Appendix A to Report COU/WS/23/016, detailed the current arrangements for polling districts and polling places and comments relating to areas which were considered as part of this review. The outcomes of the areas reviewed were detailed in section 2 of Report number: COU/WS/23/023 with the proposed recommendations and actions required to be taken to make any recommended changes, as appropriate, also detailed.


Councillor Gerald Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Governance and Regulatory, drew relevant issues to the attention of Council, including that the Council had a duty to divide its area into polling districts and to designate a polling place for each district. The Council was also required to seek to ensure that all electors had reasonable facilities for voting as were practicable in the circumstances; and to ensure that so far as was reasonable and practicable, every polling place was accessible to electors who had a disability. The review had sought to satisfactorily meet these obligations; however, it was ultimately the decision of the voter to choose the most convenient way for them to vote. If they did not wish to vote in person at a polling station, they could appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf or vote by post, which was a method actively promoted by West Suffolk Council.


The majority of members supported the outcomes of the review and the proposed amendments to the polling districts and polling places scheme, and the other recommendations proposed; however, some concern was expressed by Councillors Richard Rout and Ian Houlder regarding specific issues with polling places located within their respective wards.


On the motion of Councillor Kelly, seconded by Councillor Richard O’Driscoll, it was put to the vote and with the vote being 44 for the motion, none against and three abstentions, it was


Resolved: That


1.       The amended scheme of polling districts and polling places as set out at Appendix A to Report number: COU/WS/23/023, be approved.


2.       The Chief Executive be authorised to amend the scheme of polling districts and polling places for Moreton Hall Ward and Haverhill West Ward following completion of the necessary assessments, as detailed in the Report number: COU/WS/23/023, and in consultation with relevant ward members.


3.       The Chief Executive be authorised, as Electoral Registration Officer, to take the necessary measures as soon as possible to give effect to parliamentary constituency changes, ensuring that the register reflects existing and new constituencies, until the boundaries are fully in force.


4.       It be noted that power to designate polling places is delegated to the Chief Executive. It be agreed that such power be exercised where the decision is required at short notice and it is not possible to await a decision of Council.

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