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Review of polling districts and polling places

Polling stationThe council has a duty to divide its area into polling districts and to designate polling places for each district and review these every 5 years. The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 introduced a change to the timing of the compulsory reviews and the next compulsory review must be completed between October 2018 and January 2020.

The review of polling districts and polling places in Tower Hamlets began on 23 August 2019 with the publication of a formal Notice of Review and concludes on 31 January 2020 with the publication of the council’s conclusions, including any changes made as a result of the review.

The review is designed to see if the polling districts and polling places in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets are arranged to suit the needs of voters and covers the following:

  • the polling district boundaries within each ward in the borough
  • the location of the polling places and stations in each polling district
  • the access to each polling station

The council’s borough ward boundaries and parliamentary constituency boundaries are not part of this review.


 

Common questions, terms of reference and notice of review

Answer:

The process starts with the official Notice of Review, which gives details of when and where comments or representations can be made in relation to the review.

Any elector in the borough may make a representation in relation to the size and boundaries of polling districts and the location and suitability of polling places.

The council also welcomes comments or representations from any elected members in the area, local political representatives and any person or body with expertise in access for persons with any type of disability. The (Acting) Returning Officer must respond, and their comments will be published on this site.

Answer:
  1. a polling district is a geographical sub-division of an electoral area, ie a UK Parliamentary constituency, a European Parliamentary electoral region, a ward or an electoral division

  2. a polling place is a geographical area in which a polling station is located. However, as there is no legal definition of what a polling place is the geographical area could be defined as tightly as a particular building or as widely as the entire polling district

  3. a polling station is the actual area where the process of voting takes place.
Answer:
  1. polling places should not be changed without good reason, electors get used to their station and problems can occur during elections when things get changed

  2. the location: is it reasonably accessible within the polling district? Does it avoid barriers for the voter such as steep hills, railway lines or major roads? Are there convenient transport links?

  3. size: can it accommodate more than one polling station if required? If multiple polling stations are required, is the polling place ample enough to accommodate all voters going into and out of the polling stations, even where there is a high turnout? Double polling stations in the same polling place are often used when there are high numbers of voters.

  4. suitability: is the building readily available in the event of any unscheduled elections? Is there any possibility that the building may be demolished as part of a new development? Is the building accessible to those entitled to attend the polling place? Are there facilities for polling staff such as toilets, kitchen facilities, heating, lighting and suitable furniture?
Answer:
  1. Notice is hereby given that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (“the council”) is conducting a review of polling districts, polling places and polling stations that fall within the Borough area.

  2. The Acting Returning Officer (ARO) for the Parliamentary Constituencies of Poplar & Limehouse and Bethnal Green and Bow will make comment on the review and any proposals and those representations will be published on the website and notice boards in accordance with the timetable

  3. Electors within Tower Hamlets Borough and the Parliamentary constituencies of Poplar and Limehouse and Bethnal Green and Bow may make representations as part of this review.

  4. The council would also welcome the views of all residents, particularly disabled residents, or any person or body with expertise in access for persons with any type of disability, on any proposals in the ARO’s representation, or any other related matters.

  5. Persons or bodies making representations of alternative polling places should, if possible, propose alternative locations within the appropriate polling districts.

  6. Comments and representations may be submitted as follows:

By post

Polling Places and Districts Review 2019
Electoral Services
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Town Hall
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 2BG

By email

PDreview2019@towerhamlets.gov.uk


Documents relating to the review can be requested at the Electoral Services Office based at the Council’s offices, Mulberry Place, 5 Clove Crescent, London, E14 2BG.


 

Timetable for review
Date Detail
Friday 23 August 2019  Publication of notice and commencement of the review.
Friday 23 August 2019 Start of the public consultation period
Within 30 days of receipt Publication of the (Acting) Returning Officer’s response
Friday 18 October 2019 Public consultation period closes
Wednesday 15 January 2019 Final proposals considered at council meeting
Friday 31 January 2019 Publication of conclusions

Dated: 23 August 2019

Will Tuckley
Electoral Registration Officer

Answer:

Terms of Reference for the Polling District and Polling Places Review to be undertaken by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Introduction

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is carrying out a Polling District and Polling Places Review pursuant to the provisions of Schedule A1 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (as amended) and the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 which introduced a change to the timing of compulsory reviews of UK Parliamentary polling districts and polling places that this review must be completed between 1 October 2018 and 31 January 2020 (inclusive).

The review will have regard to the guidance issued by the Electoral Commission on “Reviews of polling districts, polling places and polling stations”.

The aim of the review is to ensure that the arrangements of polling districts, polling places and polling stations allow electors to cast their votes as easily and conveniently as is reasonably practicable, taking account of the boundaries of the borough wards and the current Parliamentary Constituencies.

The review will be conducted in accordance with the terms of reference contained in this review.

What will the review consider?

The review will look at:

  • The boundary, name and reference of existing polling districts
  • The scope for merging polling districts, and the need to retain/create new polling districts
  • The polling places for each polling district
  • The suitability of existing polling places and stations used for each polling district (including in particular its access and suitability for use by disabled electors)
  • Possible alternative polling places which may be more suitable or more convenient than existing polling places.

What issues will not be considered as part of the review?

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England carried out a review of the borough ward boundaries and electoral arrangements in 2013 and published its final recommendations on 25 March in the same year.

Representations on matters such as changes to Borough Ward boundaries cannot be dealt with under this review.

What is the area under review?

The whole of the London borough of Tower Hamlets is included in the scope of the review.

Why is the council carrying out a polling district review?

Pursuant to changes brought in by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, the council is statutorily required to carry out a review of polling districts and polling places between 1 October 2018 and 31 January 2020.

A report will be prepared by the Head of Electoral Services to be presented to Full Council on 15 January 2020, when a formal decision as to the outcome of this review will be taken.

The last full review of the borough’s polling districts was carried out in 2014.

What is the present structure of polling districts?

Tower Hamlets has 75 polling districts of varying sizes. Maps showing the geographical extent of each district are available on the council’s webpage with hard copies available for inspection in 

Electoral Services
7th Floor
Town Hall
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 2BG 

Details of the name, reference, and elector numbers for each district are detailed on the website.

How will the review work?

A formal Notice of the review will be published on 23 August 2019.

Copies of the Notice will also be displayed at the council’s offices and in at least one other conspicuous location within the authority. The Notice will also be sent to interested parties, including elected representatives, political parties, disability groups and other stakeholders. A press release will be issued, and the council will use its social media feeds to draw attention to the review and the process.

The review will run from 23 August 2019 to 31 January 2020. The initial consultation stage will run from the publication of the Notice on 23 August 2019 for eight weeks until Friday 18 October 2019.

This stage will involve:

  1. A compulsory submission from the (Acting) Returning Officer of the two UK Parliamentary constituencies within the area of the review, which will be published by the council
  2. Submissions from electors and other interested persons and bodies, including elected representatives and those with expertise in relation to access to premises or facilities for disabled people.

Responses received before the end of the consultation period will be considered and taken into account as part of a report to Full Council on 15 January 2020 where it will decide on the most appropriate polling districts and polling places.

If the review results in the alteration of one or more polling districts the Electoral Registration Officer will make the necessary alterations to the electoral register.

Once the council has agreed the proposals the council will publish its conclusions along with all that documents that it is required to publish as set out in guidance from the Electoral Commission.

Electors will be made aware of any changes made to the place they must attend to vote.

Following the conclusion of the review the appeals process for any decision made by the council is set out in guidance from the Electoral Commission. This can be found on the Electoral Commission website.

Who will we consult?

Electors within the authority and the two UK Parliamentary constituencies may make a representation and the authority would welcome the views of all residents, particularly disabled residents, on the authority’s proposals, the (Acting) Returning Officer’s representation or any other matters.

The authority would also welcome any person or body with expertise in access for persons with any type of disability to comment on the authority’s proposals, the (Acting) Returning Officer’s representation or any other matters.

The council is also consulting with elected representatives, Borough Council Members, political parties, disabled groups and other parties deemed to have expertise in the process.

The (Acting) Returning Officer for the Parliamentary Constituencies of Bethnal Green and Bow and Poplar and Limehouse will also be consulted and the formal response published on the webpage.

If premises are proposed as alternative polling places they will also be consulted and sent a copy of the Notice of the Review so they can respond to the consultation.

Timetable for the review

The Polling District Review formally begins when the Notice of Review is published. The timetable below outlines the main stages of the review (please note that these dates may be subject to slight alteration).

  1. Publication of notice and terms of reference (official start of review) – 23 August 2019
  2. Publication of comments of the (Acting) Returning Officer
  3. Consultation Period 23 August to 18 October 2019
  4. Report on review to General Purposes Committee 10 December 2019
  5. Report on review to Full Council 15 January 2020
  6. Preparation of Polling Districts and Polling Places orders – January 2020
  7. Publication of council’s conclusions and decisions 31 January 2020
  8. Publication of electoral register based on any revised polling districts/places – 1 February 2020

Supporting documents

Maps

Comments of the (Acting) Returning Officer

The (Acting) Returning Officer for the two parliamentary constituencies of Poplar and Limehouse and Bethnal Green and Bow is a statutory consultee and must respond.

The comments of the (Acting) Returning Officer are now available with additional references in the letter to Appendix A.

Other submissions received

The following submissions have also been received.

How can I respond?

The consultation phase of the review has now ended.

What happens next?

An initial report with recommendations will be presented to the council’s General Purposes Committee on Tuesday 10 December 2019. A final decision on the recommendations will be made at Full Council on Wednesday 15 January 2020. The council will publish the conclusions of the review on Friday 31 January 2020.