Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Jonathan Goodrum, Senior Governance Officer. Tel. 01302 736709 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest, if any.


No declarations of interest were made at the meeting.


Minutes of the Elections and Democratic Structures Committee Meeting held on 24th November 2020 pdf icon PDF 206 KB


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Elections and Democratic Structures Committee meeting held on 24 November, 2020 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Annual Canvass Update Report pdf icon PDF 332 KB

Additional documents:


Trina Barber, the Electoral Services Manager presented a report which updated the Committee on a number of key work streams being undertaken by the Electoral Services Team, in relation to the Registration of Electors and Annual Canvass, since the Committee’s last meeting in November, 2020.  


The report outlined the position at the end of the annual canvass 2020, and provided a breakdown of the postal votes and the electorate by ward as at 1st December, 2020, which were attached to the report at Appendices A and B, respectively. The Electoral Services Manager highlighted that since the publication of the report, there had been some changes to the electoral register, due to some electors had been removed from the register, and the Electoral Services Team were still in the process of contacting those people.


It was noted that since completion of the annual canvass, some Care Homes, including private care homes and multiple occupancy properties, had been added to the Register. The Electoral Services Team had achieved a 93% response return rate from Care Homes and multiple occupancy, which fall under Route 3 of the Canvass.  


The Electoral Services Manager reported that this year was the first time that the canvass had been carried out under the new Reforms. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic no door canvassing took place to chase up returns, however, with telephone canvassing and data matching, an overall response rate of 94.68% had been achieved, which was higher than that in previous years and in line with neighbouring authorities.  


In reporting on completion of the canvass, it was noted that in common with other local authorities, funding support from the Government had reduced from previous years, as it was expected that the Reforms would reduce the cost of the Canvass. However, due to technical issues with the e-mail system more letters had to be posted out than anticipated causing an expected cost.  It was noted that in response to the Cabinet Office, the Electoral Services Manager had submitted a bid to obtain additional funding, and would inform the Committee of the outcome at the next meeting.


Following the presentation of the report, the Electoral Services Manager answered a number of questions from Members on the following issues:-


  • In response to a query as to whether the Council had in previous years been successful in receiving additional funding from the Government for the annual canvass and whether the Council would be successful this year, the Electoral Services Manager advised that in the past, Doncaster had been successful in applying for funding.  She explained that the application process was protracted and was heavily scrutinised by the Cabinet Office and hoped that the Council would again be successful this year.


  • In reply to a question as to whether the reason for the increase in the response rate from this year’s canvass, was due to people having to stay at home during lockdown, the Electoral Services Manager stated that because the canvass reform had only been introduced this year, it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


2021 Elections Update pdf icon PDF 324 KB


The Committee considered a report which updated Members on the upcoming elections scheduled for 6th May, 2021.


In presenting the report, Scott Fawcus, Assistant Director for Legal and Democratic Services, confirmed that the elections scheduled on 6th May, 2021, as detailed in paragraph 6 of the report, were to take place unless the Council was notified otherwise by the Government.  He reported that the elections would be Covid compliant involving social distancing, restrictions on the number of people entering Polling Stations at any one time and the use of PPE by members of staff and electors.  Due to Covid-19, it was expected that there would be an increase in postal vote applications.  The Assistant Director for Legal and Democratic Services further reported that there was some challenges booking Polling Stations due to some previously used premises now being used as testing and vaccination centres.  It was noted that meetings were taking place with the Council’s Assets Team, to address this issue.  During the next few weeks, the Electoral Services Team would be recruiting staff to work on the elections, the majority of whom would be Council staff.  Jobs would include processing of postal votes, working at Polling Stations and working on the count.  The Assistant Director for Legal and Democratic Services confirmed that the count for each election would be held at the Doncaster Racecourse.


Discussion followed, during which a Member asked whether the Electoral Services Team had received guidance from the Government with regard to the requirements/practicalities on how the elections would operate, in particular, highlighting the difficulties of obtaining signatories to stand as a candidate and canvassing during lockdown.  The Electoral Services Manager advised that she had recently met with the Cabinet Office, who were working with Ministers on the requirements in relation to the nomination process, campaigning, possible changes to the restrictions, and if the country was still in lockdown at the time of the elections, what the requirements would be. 


In relation to the Mayoral election, clarity was sought whether a political party having a candidate standing in the Mayoral election, would receive a free mail drop for circulation of the candidates booklet to every household. The Electoral Services Manager confirmed that whilst posting out of the booklet was free, the political parties had to pay a contribution towards the costs for the printing of the booklet.  In relation to the Police and Crime Commissioner election, information would be provided on the Police and Crime Commissioners website and Barnsley Council’s website as lead authority and it would be linked from the Electoral Services website.


In response to a question from a Member regarding the date of when candidates would need to obtain the necessary forms for the local elections and the closing date for submission of the forms, it was confirmed that the Electoral Services Team had a timetable of key dates.  It was noted that the receipt of nominations opened on 23rd March, 2021, and the date for the closure of nominations was 4.00pm on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.