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Disclosures of Interest
In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, councillors are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.
No disclosures of interests were made.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Governance Committee held on 11 September 2023.
The minutes of the meeting of the Governance Committee held on 11 September 2023 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Public Question Time
To answer any questions asked by the public which relate to an item on this agenda and which are in line with the Council’s Constitution.
Public Question Time will be concluded by the Chair when all questions have been answered or on the expiry of a period of 15 minutes, whichever is the earlier.
No questions were asked by the public.
To consider report CEx/066 of the Chief Executive / Returning Officer.
The Committee considered report CEx/066 of the Chief Executive / Returning Officer which requested that the Committee contemplate the Returning Officer’s proposal for the polling arrangements for Crawley following the statutory required review of Polling Districts, Polling Places and Polling Stations.
In presenting the report the Democracy and Data Manager highlighted that the only change in polling places proposed was for Ifield Ward where it was recommended that The Mill Primary Academy no longer be used as a polling station. The rationale for that proposal was as a consequence of the comments received by the school and that accessibility onto the school grounds was not adequate for voters with disabilities. There was no parking on the road outside the polling station, limited access to the premises carpark and the distance from the entrance from the road to the entrance of the polling station all made voting difficult for the electorate. The Committee was reminded that the Elections Act 2022 stated that “Returning Officers have a general responsibility to take all reasonable steps to support voters with disabilities”. The Committee appreciated the rationale for no longer using The Mill Primary Academy as a polling place and supported the change as set out in the report.
The Committee acknowledged that the necessary renovations to the former Creasys Drive Adventure Playground building should be completed in readiness for the building’s use as a polling station for the scheduled May 2024 election. The Committee was pleased that a sustainable solution had been found for polling places in Broadfield Ward.
1. The Committee endorsed the proposed Polling Places and Polling Stations location and Scheme as detailed in Appendix A to these minutes, which propose the continuation of all current locations, with the exception of Ifield Ward, where it is proposed to not use the Mill school as a polling Station.
2. To recommend to the Full Council that it adopt the new polling arrangements, with the Electoral Register amended to reflect new scheme commencing on 1 February 2024.
Elections Act 2022: Tranche Two Update
A presentation will be provided on Tranche 2 of the Elections Act 2022.
A presentation was given to the Committee on Tranche 2 of the Elections Act 2022.
In response to queries raised by the Committee clarification was provided on elements of online application processes, the rules relating to handing in postal votes at a polling station, and various scenarios when an elector might need assistance in casting their vote.
Additionally, the Committee:
· Noted that, whilst a business grant had been received to assist with the initial set up relating to the requirements of the Act, the Council did not expect to receive any further ongoing financial assistance.
· Was advised that the length of time a postal vote would be in effect before it needed to be renewed had been reduced to 3 years to help prevent fraud and crime.
· Acknowledged that detailed information relating to some processes, including the type/level of polling station data electoral candidates and agents would be entitled to was yet to be provided.
· Was assured that alternative options were available for voters without internet access and/or those without a National Insurance Number or other valid identification. The Lead Electoral Services Officer emphasised that they would provide additional support and information to those such individuals to ensure that everyone eligible to register to vote was able to.
· Was provided with more information on the provisions available within the polling station to assist those with a visual impairment. The Committee was encouraged to seek the assistance of a Presiding Officer on the day of poll if necessary as they would be able to assist any elector who might need additional assistance.
The Committee was informed that a copy of the presentation would be published in the Councillors’ Information Bulletin.
That the information provided in the presentation be noted.
The Committee is asked to RECOMMEND:
That the Full Council agrees the amendments to the Constitution proposed in report LDS/209 of the Head of Governance, People & Performance.
The Committee considered report LDS/209 of the Head of Governance, People & Performance which proposed various changes to the Constitution.
Further clarification was sought and provided on the rationale for the proposed changes. The Committee subsequently expressed its support for the proposals.
The Full Council be requested to agree the amendments to the Constitution set out in Appendix B to these minutes.