Agenda and minutes

Electoral Matters Committee - Thursday 7th December 2023 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside

Contact: Jess Bayley 

No. Item


To receive apologies for absence and notification of substitutes


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R. Lambert and H. Jones.  Councillor K. May was substitute for Councillor Lambert and Councillor S.T. Nock was substitute for Councillor Jones.


Declarations of Interest

To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.


There were no declarations of interest.


To confirm the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting of the Electoral Matters Committee held on 21st September 2023 pdf icon PDF 112 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 21st September 2023 were submitted.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 21st September 2023 be approved as a correct record.


Local Government Boundary Commission for England preliminary stage Boundary Review for Bromsgrove - Council Size Submission pdf icon PDF 233 KB

Additional documents:


The Chairman agreed to this item being considered first.


The Committee considered a report which set out the stages for a review of the electoral boundaries in Bromsgrove, which would be carried out by the Local Government Boundaries Commission for England (LGBCE).  There had been an update to the timetable to take into account the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May 2024.  The planned dates were now:


·       Consultation on ward patterns 30th July – 30th September 2024

·       LGBCE to meet on 17th December 2024 to decide its draft recommendations

·       Consultation on draft recommendations between 14th January and 24th March 2025

·       Publication of the LGBCE final recommendations on 24th June 2025

·       Order to be laid in summer of 2025

·       Implementation in May 2027.


If the Council wished to make a submission on council size, it should do this by 23rd February 2024 and the Committee was asked to decide whether the Council should make a submission and if so, what the indicative number of Councillors should be.   


Officers had prepared an initial draft submission using the template provided by the LGBCE.  The draft contained contextual information to aid discussion by the Committee.   


The following were the main points discussed by the Committee during consideration of the report:


·       it was suggested that reference on page 58 to ‘require opposition members to be appointed as Chairmen of the Audit, Standards, and Governance Committee and the Overview and Scrutiny Board’ should be amended to acknowledge that this would be impractical if the Council was made up of only one political group

·       further to a query, officers would check the ONS data available following the 2021 census to ensure that data quoted in the submission was as up to date as possible

·       members queried whether the Council should aim to have an odd or even number of Councillors.  It was acknowledged that for practical reasons many Councils preferred to have an odd number of Councillors.  This tended to enable a majority administration to be formed in the event of an election outcome leading to political groups of the same size.  However, the view was expressed that whilst this was a reasonable consideration, it should not be given more weight than improving the ratio of electorate to councillors across the District

·       Members asked for details of the range between the lowest number of electors per Councillor currently and the highest

·       It was noted that the previous review of Council size had reduced it from 39 to 31 Councillors and removed multi member wards.  With this background Members agreed that there should not be any further reduction in the number of Councillors.

·       The view was expressed that the estimated increase in electorate due to proposed development used in the previous review had not materialised, which meant there was an uneven distribution of the electorate across the District currently.   Members were reminded that the review was carried out in stages.  The LGBCE was looking at the total number of Councillors for the projected electorate as a whole  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15/23


Statutory Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2023 pdf icon PDF 158 KB

A background paper for this item,  the polling district review guidance 2023, has been published in a separate Background Papers pack for this meeting.


Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report which set out the results of the consultation and the findings of the Electoral Services team to the formal review of Polling Districts and Polling Places. The consultation had run between 2nd October to 13th November and all submissions and summaries had been recorded in the appendix to the report. 


Members had previously supported a light touch approach to the review, since there would be a need for a further exercise following the County Council electoral boundaries review, which was due to be finalised in the summer of 2024, and again after the review of the District Council electoral boundaries. 


Most of the submissions received had expressed satisfaction with the current polling districts and the polling stations within those. It would not be necessary to republish the electoral register unless the Committee considered there should be changes to the polling districts.  If there were any changes, these would be in place for the PCC elections on 2nd May 2024 and before that if there was a by election.  It was noted that the ARO was asked to comment in response to the consultation and the interim ARO, Mrs Hanley, had supported the suggestions from the committee and officers.


Details were set out in the report of the 3 areas where requests for change were received:


Polling District COA Cofton Hackett

Proposals had been received to move from the ‘old’ to the new village hall because of access issues.  Following a visit to the new hall, officers supported this proposal and the Committee endorsed the change.


Polling District ALB Beoley

A complaint had been received about election posters being displayed at a property adjacent to the village hall on polling day.  This was not relating to the polling place, so no change was proposed and the Committee agreed to this.


Polling Districts ASA (Aston Fields North), ASB (Aston Fields South), SSA (Slideslow South) and SSB (Slideslow North) – St Godwald’s Church Hall A submission had been received objecting to the use of St Godwald’s church hall as the polling place for two District Wards.


The Committee had previously agreed to trial an alternative polling place from Finstall First School.  Due to Covid the first opportunity to use St Godwald’s Church Hall as a polling place for Aston Fields and Slideslow was in May 2023. At the election, polling staff handed a short questionnaire to voters at random regarding the polling place and future options for polling. Of the 146 responses received, 87% were happy with the polling place and over 49% would use it in the future, although some issues were raised about parking. Over a third (37%) would like to see the polling place return to Finstall First School.


A member expressed the view that the polling station should move back to Finstall First school because of the parking issues at St Godwald’s.  He pointed out that whilst the use of school premises at short notice could cause issues, the dates for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16/23


Changes to postal and proxy voting - briefing note pdf icon PDF 155 KB



The Committee noted the content of the briefing note relating to changes to postal and proxy voting.