A report of the Assistant Director, Organisation and Governance, was presented to advise Members of the outcome of the consultation on the current review of polling districts and polling places and seek agreement to proposed changes arising from the review. Section 17 of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 introduced a duty on local authorities to carry out and complete reviews of polling districts and polling places between 1 October 2013 and 31 January 2015, and thereafter every five years.
In addition, a review of the Councils Electoral Ward arrangements had been undertaken by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England which renamed and reduced the number of wards within the Middlesbrough area from 23 to 20 with effect from the next Council Elections in May 2015. This in turn affected the polling districts and polling places.
The aim of the review was to ensure that all electors had such reasonable facilities for voting as were practicable in the circumstances. The Council had to ensure that, so far as is reasonable and practicable, the polling places it was responsible for were accessible to all electors, including those who were disabled. Efforts were made to keep polling stations in Council owned buildings so that the Council had control over their use at election time.
As required, a public notice was published in two local newspapers, on the Councils website, letters and questionnaires were sent to local Members of Parliament and Middlesbrough Councillors, and notices were posted in various locations in the town. Local disability organisations and black and minority ethnic groups were also consulted. A full list of consultees was attached at Appendix 1 to the submitted report.
Electoral Services received five responses from Councillors, Agents and Parish Clerks and four responses from representatives of community organisations and members of the public.
It was confirmed that there was a factual error in the submitted report in relation to the Stainton and Thornton Ward. It was clarified that two existing Polling Stations at Stainton Memorial Hall and Hemlington Hall Academy would remain.
Members discussed the proposals and the following alternatives were suggested:
Central Ward - use the International Centre instead of the Friends' Meeting House, Elder Court.
Brambles and Thorntree Ward - Temporary mobile polling station at junction of Merlin Road and Cargo Fleet Lane to remain in-situ.
Representations were made at the meeting in relation the Acklam Ward and the proposed relocation of a polling station to Newham Bridge Primary School. Since no alternative option was presented, it was agreed that the proposal would stand. However, it was suggested that those households affected by the relocation of the polling station would be targeted with specific publicity.
ORDERED as follows that the:
1. information provided was received and noted.
2. International Centre would be used as a polling station in Central Ward instead of the Friends Meeting House, Elder Court.
3. temporary mobile polling station at the junction of Merlin Road and Cargo Fleet Lane in Brambles and Thorntree Ward would remain in-situ.
4. remaining proposals for polling stations in the submitted report were approved.
5. approved polling stations would take effect from the next Council elections on 7 May 2015.
6. affected households in Acklam Ward would be targeted with specific publicity regarding the relocation of the polling station to Newham Bridge Primary School.