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Polling places review 2023-24

Every 5 years the (Acting) Returning Officer must carry out a formal review of the Council's polling scheme. The scheme comprises the Polling Districts (individual registers); the Polling Place (building within the parish or a specific part of it), and its Polling Stations. The Polling Station is the room where the actual voting takes place, and it is the sole discretion of the (A)RO to decide on the most suitable room or whether two or more rooms are required due to electorate size.

The ARO has to review polling provision within his Constituency. The Parliamentary Constituency is currently called Saffron Walden and comprises the whole of the district (which is the responsibility of the Returning Officer) and at a parliamentary election this takes in four wards from Chelmsford City Council.  However, as from the next parliamentary election, the constituency name will change to North West Essex and four wards of the Uttlesford District will come under the ARO responsibility of two different councils - Braintree and Harlow - see below. The four wards from Chelmsford will continue to come under the revised constituency of North West Essex. This has been changed under the latest Parliamentary Constituencies Boundary Review 2023.

Ward Name

Polling Districts

Council/Constituency

Broad Oak & the HallingburysABA, ABB, ABC, ABD & ABEHarlow
Hatfield HeathAKA & AKBHarlow
Felsted and StebbingAFA, AFB & AFCBraintree
The SampfordsAWB, AWC, AWD, AWA & AWA1Braintree

For the sake of this review of polling provision, the (Acting) RO will be reviewing the whole of the Uttlesford District. Comments on the suitability of existing arrangements are sought.
 

Have your say

Local disability groups and political stakeholders were consulted and anyone could submit their views before Monday 13 November.

The deadline for responses has now closed.
 

Responses

Comments submitted as below. These comments will be addressed by this Council's (Acting) Returning Officer in the report to members of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee on 28 November.

ABD - Hatfield Broad Oak

The Acting Returning Officer and Chief Executive from Harlow Council, where this polling district would come under at the next Parliamentary General Election, have made the following comments about the St John Evangelist Church i.e. the current polling place:

The Church is lacking in space (the station has to be set up in the church pews); facilities (lack of heating and only a kettle for the staff to use); also disabled access is not completely adequate with an uneven gravel path that is not lit up at night.

As there seems to be no other alternative options in the polling district of which we are currently aware, consideration could be given to using Hatfield Broad Oak Village Hall, either as 2 polling stations in the one place or combine the two current polling districts into one. The church is not in the main part of Bush End and the properties in this rural area are spread out so I expect most electors attending the station would drive. Therefore, it is suggested that electors would be happy to drive to the village hall in Hatfield Broad Oak. There are only 105 electors in Bush End and so there is ample space in the village hall to accommodate a small increase in the electorate or set up another polling station in the hall for these electors. Hatfield Broad Oak Village Hall has better facilities and disabled access.

APA - Castle East

Current polling for the 1,640 electors is at a portacabin placed on the car park of Homebase for polling day.

Saffron Walden Town Council comment:

SWTC feels that the portacabin on Homebase car park is an inadequate location and poorly accessible for residents.

Alternative buildings could be Dame Bradburys school, Town Hall (whilst out of Ward it is an existing station), the Church, Lime Avenue changing facilities.

If no other alternative venue is available suggest voters could be allocated to the Town Hall.  We already use this as a polling place for AOA Audley North with voters attending the Committee Room as the polling station.  The Town Council would make the Council Chamber available for the APA electorate thus segregating voters. The venue is big enough to do this.

Castle Ward District Councillor Freeman:

I agree that the Homebase arrangement is less than ideal.  The Town Hall certainly can accommodate a second polling station (we usually have one for Shire Ward in the lower rooms at the back, with an entrance opposite Starbucks).  The Castle Polling Station could, for example, be the Court Room; or the remaining room opposite the Shire Ward station.

The arrangement using the church in Castle Street works well.  It used to be the school, further up the street, but that involved the school being closed for the day - which is absurd.  This is probably the reason for the reluctance of the former Dame Bradbury's School in Ashdon Road to host a polling station.  Schools nowadays have very strict safeguarding arrangements and opening them to the public causes all sorts of extra work for the staff.

Shire Ward District Councillor McBirnie:

Saffron Walden Town Hall makes sense rather than the Homebase portable site.

Hearing Help Essex

Though not aimed at any specific polling place, they have made the following comment:

I would ask you to consider space available in polling stations - many of your residents wear hearing aids so being able to have a clear conversation with the Officer when there are other conversations happening at the same time can be very difficult. Having a bit of a quieter space to one side could be really helpful to the 1 in 5 Uttlesford residents who experience hearing loss.

Also having any instructions clearly available for view - e.g. laminated cards with what the officers would say etc will aid communication too. As many of your residents will also have eye deterioration too, I would recommend these are typed in minimum font 16, but I am sure your local sight-loss charity will advise on this.

Great Canfield Parish Council

Great Canfield parish council confirms it has no comments to make on existing arrangements other than they are satisfactory.

Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council

Members agreed that that the Parish Council has no comments to make on the Review.

 

Current scheme

View the latest Council approved scheme from the last review in 2019.

Due to the availability of venues, or new more suitable buildings becoming available, there have since been a few changes. 

View the most recent scheme we are consulting on (gi.ui.mediatype.spreadsheets) [23KB]
 

Polling district and polling places review documents and maps

You can view our current polling district map, our polling scheme listing the current polling places and some statistics for each of the polling districts.

Review notices