Agenda item

Polling Arrangements: May 2023

To consider report LDS/195 of the Head of Governance, People & Performance.


The Committee considered report LDS/195 of the Head of Governance, People & Performance which requested that some temporary changes to the Scheme of Polling Places relating to the May 2023 Borough Council elections be made in advance of the introduction of voter ID.


The current Scheme was adopted in January 2019 following ward boundary changes arising from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England electoral review of the Borough.  The Polling Scheme worked well at the three sets of elections held in 2019.


Several temporary changes had been made to the Polling Scheme for the elections

held in 2021 and 2022 and, at its meeting held on 10 October 2022, the Committee considered the use of schools as polling places for May 2023.  Further temporary

changes to the Polling Scheme were now recommended for polling districts LLB (Broadfield Ward), LMC (Three Bridges Ward) and LMD (Three Bridges Ward) due to the unavailability of venues and the requirements for the checking of voter ID.


Polling District LBB – Broadfield Ward (Broadfield Community Centre)


Committee members discussed the proposal to change the polling place for polling district LBB (Broadfield Ward) for the May 2023 election to Broadfield Community Centre as the building at the current polling place (the former adventure playground at Creasys Drive (“Creasys Drive”)) would be unavailable in May and for future elections.  The Electoral Services Manager advised that future polling provision for this part of Broadfield would be considered at the statutory polling district review.


Following queries from the Committee regarding the reasons for the unavailability of Creasys Drive, the Electoral Services Manager advised that the site had been ear-marked for use as a potential Patch Team Depot by the Council.  In addition, information had received that day which called into question the structural integrity of the building, although detailed information as to the nature of that structural damage had not yet been provided in detail.


The Committee acknowledged that the health and safety of voters and polling staff was paramount and, should it be deemed unsafe, due to any damage to the building or use/storage of large machinery within the vicinity, the building should not be used for polling.  However, both the extent of damage to the building and potential disruption to the operation of any future use as a Depot was unknown at the current stage, and therefore the Committee felt it was important to obtain a greater understanding of those issues before a decision could be made on the matter.


Several Committee members held the view that Broadfield Community Centre had become very crowded when it had been used as the polling place for the whole of Broadfield Ward during the poll for the General Election.  Those Councillors therefore suggested that Creasys Drive should be retained to reduce both queuing and overcrowding at the Community Centre.  Additionally, it was asserted that frequently moving the location of a polling place within a Ward was confusing for electors and it was stressed that consistency of polling place locations should be retained.


It was however noted that voter turnout had improved when all polling for Broadfield Ward had taken place at Broadfield Community Centre and some members of the Committee highlighted that the Community Centre was more conveniently located than Creasys Drive for the voters who lived on the eastern, Tollgate Hill, side of Broadfield.


The Committee was reminded that the proposed change to polling place for polling district LBB would only be in place for the May 2023 elections, and that future polling provision for the district would be considered at the statutory polling district review.


Following a detailed discussion, the Committee agreed in principle that, should Creasys Drive be deemed unsafe to use as a polling location, it would accept that Broadfield Community Centre be used as a polling place instead for polling district LBB.  The Committee emphasised however that it required more detail as to the health and safety concerns, the structural integrity of the building and the anticipated disruption to any potential future operations at the site before a definitive decision could be taken by the Full Council on the matter. 


Polling District LMC – Three Bridges Ward (The Hawth Theatre)


The Committee was reminded that, due to the usual meeting room at the Holiday Inn Xpress being unavailable, polling had been held at The Hawth Theatre for the May 2022 election.  The Committee was advised that the meeting room at Holiday Inn Xpress would not easily accommodate the new requirement to have facilities to check voter ID in private, where requested by the voter.  It was therefore recommended that the polling place for the district be changed to The Hawth Theatre as that offered more suitable facilities.


The Committee expressed support for the continued use of The Hawth Theatre as a polling place, with several members of the Committee stating that its use as a polling place had worked well.  It was also highlighted by Committee members that positive feedback on use of The Hawth Theatre had been received from constituents, particularly given that it was not necessary to cross a busy main road to gain access to the site, as had been the case with the Holiday Inn Xpress.  Additionally, it was acknowledged that previous use of The Hawth Theatre had not negatively affected voter turnout, as the minor reduction in turnout between the 2021 and 2022 for the elections in polling district LMC had been reflected across polling districts within the Borough.


Polling District LMD – Three Bridges Ward (The New Town Hall)


The current polling place was the Town Hall, however that building was due to be decommissioned by May 2023 and it was therefore recommended that the designated polling place be amended to the new Town Hall as the reception area would offer excellent facilities for polling.





That the Full Council be recommended that, for the 2023 elections, the Polling Scheme be amended to allocate polling places as follows:

1.      LBB - Broadfield Community Centre (subject to a report being submitted to the next meeting of the Full Council which provided satisfactory evidence demonstrating that it would not be possible to use the former Adventure Playground site at Creasys Drive as a polling place due to health and safety concerns, structural damage to the building and/or anticipated significant disruption to any potential future operations at the site).

2.      LMC – The Hawth Theatre.

3.      LMD – The new Town Hall.

Supporting documents: