Agenda item

Polling Places Alterations 2024


The Returning Officer and Electoral Services Manager presented the Polling Places Alterations 2024 for the consideration of the Committee.


During the presentation of the report, Members were advised that changes needed to be made to some Polling Places in readiness for the elections due to be held in May 2024. These changes had come to light following the previous meeting of the Committee and Members were asked to make a decision on these changes.


Polling District ASA (Aston Fields North), ASB (Aston Fields South)


Members were reminded that at the meeting held on 7th December 2023 it was agreed that St Godwald’s Church continued to be used as a polling place for Polling District ASA (Aston Fields North), ASB (Aston Fields South). Officers had also investigated the use of the Salvation Army Hall on Carlyle Road which had previously been used as a polling place. Officers were of the opinion that the Salvation Army Hall would be suitable as a polling place.


Polling District CAN (Woodrow)


Members were informed that the current polling place of Catshill Methodist Church Hall was booked for the dates of the election in May 2024 and that the bookings were unable to be changed. Officers had therefore visited Catshill Village Hall and investigated this site as an alternative polling place. Although it was noted that this venue had limited onsite parking, there was on road parking provision across the road. It was therefore deemed by Officers that Catshill Village Hall was suitable for use a polling place for May 2024.


Polling Districts COB/LHA (Lickey/Lickey Monument)


The Returning Officer presented Members with the information in respect of the proposed alteration to the polling place for Polling Districts COB/LHA (Lickey/Lickey Monument). It was confirmed that the usual polling place at the Trinity Centre (Lickey Parish Hall) was unavailable for the elections due to take place in May 2024. It was reported that the owners of the Trinity Centre were unwilling to change the current bookings due to the impact on the current user, a local nursery.


Therefore, alternative venues had been investigated. These were as follows:


1.     Holy Trinity Church

2.     NASUWT Education Centre

3.     The Old Rose and Crown Hotel

4.     Lickey Hills Primary School


In terms of the Holy Trinity Church site, it was explained that there was reasonable space for polling. However, the onsite parking provision was problematic and on street parking, although available, would need to be subject to a Health and Safety assessment due to the speed of motorists on this road and the proximity of the road from the pavement. In addition, there would need to be additional measures put in place to ensure adequate lighting on the site. Officers were also unsure as to whether a ramp would be able to be sited there for electors who experienced mobility difficulties and required alternative access.


Officers reported that the NASUWT Education Centre also posed challenges if selected as a Polling Place. The site was quite off road and potentially difficult for voters to find.


When investigating the Old Rose and Crown Hotel it was noted that this site also came with challenges and that an extra Polling Clerk would be required in order to assist with providing access to electors through a fire door. However, there was good onsite parking and a disabled parking space can be created. and that signage, both inside and outside of the premises was good. It was noted that there were some potholes in the car parking area, however, these could be fixed by the Environmental Services team in readiness should the venue be deemed acceptable to Members.


Officers accepted that the geographical location was not as ideal as the Trinity Centre as most electors within the Polling Districts resided in the south of the District rather than the east where The Old Rose and Crown Hotel was located.


The Committee was informed that the Holy Trinity Church had offered to provide some communications, as had the Trinity Centre, to its members through the church newsletters as would the local parish council to inform residents of the change of venue.


Following the presentation of the report, Members queried the way in which Officers confirmed polling place bookings given that some elections were unscheduled, and the dates not known. It was explained that much of this was through good will of the venues when sites were required at short notice. It was confirmed that temporary buildings, such as portacabins, could be used. Or if necessary following discussion with the relevant Ward Member and Returning Officer that voters could use alternative polling places at short notice.


There were questions in respect of the financial implications when using multiple polling places for elections. It was reported that there were financial implications in terms of extra staffing costs and building hire. However, it was explained that, as there are no Local elections this year the cost of General and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections costs were covered by Central Government.


Members raised whether there would be any issues in using a church as a polling place in terms of equality and diversity and whether a temporary building could be used on the usual Trinity Centre site. This was deemed unsuitable, and Officers confirmed that Members were being presented with the best options from all the venues that had been considered.


It was reported that car parking charges may be implemented by Birmingham City Council, in the future at The Old Rose and Crown Hotel site. This should certainly be considered if the venue was used as a venue for a polling place. Officers explained that there would need to be negotiations if this was the case and that there was precedent of venues waiving car parking charges on the days of elections.


Members were in agreement that Lickey Hills Primary School was not an option as they did not want to disrupt pupils’ education. It was also stated that this was also the case for the nursery held at the Trinity Centre. Information on public transport available to access the Old Rose and Crown Hotel was discussed and that the location was at the bottom of a very steep hill which may be problematic for some electors. However, it was suggested that there would potentially be complaints made by residents due to any changes made to the polling place and therefore the Old Rose and Crown Hotel was still the most suitable option.


Members were informed that any decision on Polling Districts COB/LHA (Lickey/Lickey Monument) would be discussed with the relevant Ward Member following any decision made by the Committee.


RESOLVED that the following changes to Polling Places take effect from 2nd May 2024


a)    The Salvation Army Hall in Carlyle Road be used as a Polling Place for Polling District ASA (Aston Fields North), ASB (Aston Fields South).

b)    Catshill Village Hall be used as a Polling Place for Polling District CAN (Woodrow).

c)     After discussion with the relevant Ward Member, the Old Rose and Crown Hotel be used as a Polling Place for Polling Districts COB/LHA (Lickey/Lickey Monument).


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