Zena Smith, Manager of Election Services presented this paper to the Governance Committee for consideration.
This detailed the proposed temporary changes to the Polling Station arrangements planned for the GLA Mayoral elections presently scheduled for May 2021.
These temporary arrangements are either:
· due to venues no longer being available in light of the Covid19 pandemic or
· to avoid further disruption to schools, where alternative venues are able to be secured
Temporary arrangements had been proposed for 21 Polling Stations which have hitherto been provided in Schools, but some had refused and on that basis some amendments had been made.
It had not been possible to secure an alternative to Hilldene School and so the School would continue to be the Polling Station due to the fact that no other alternative venue could be found. All efforts had been made to consider merging an existing station to avoid this but investigation showed this would not work due to lack of space.
The Governance Committee noted that these proposals were temporary for the GLA elections and that a full review of the Polling Stations would follow the outcome of the Boundary Commission Review.
Andrew Blake–Herbert, Chief Executive pointed out that many of Havering residents had used the same Polling Stations for years and would be entrenched in the practice of attending the same station. To ensure this temporary change proceeded in a seamless fashion the Communications Team together with Elections would ensure a very clear and extensive programme of communication for residents.
It was noted that the turn out for the GLA elections was usually around 40% and that it was likely that many residents would chose to use a postal vote to ensure the process was Covid secure.
In any event all plans were to be implemented to ensure social distancing and other arrangements to keep residents and staff protected from the virus. It was important to protect schools given the upheaval in education to date.
Councillor Durant was concerned that this was alarmism and that the democratic right to attend a Polling Station should be encouraged.
Following discussion, the Governance Committee voted with all Members in FAVOUR save Councillor David Durant who voted AGAINST and Councillor Ray Morgon who ABSTAINED.
· To note the proposed changes set out in the report concerning the location of polling stations used for the GLA elections on 6th May 2021.
· To note a number of the proposed new venues are yet to confirm, in the event that any of these decline that the original venue be used.
· To note that the final list will be sent to all members prior to the election being held on 6th May 2021.