Polling place review: Schools
- Meeting of Regulatory and General Purposes Committee, Thursday, 20th January 2022 6.00 p.m. (Item 14.)
- View the background to item 14.
The Director of Law and Governance submitted a report which set out the findings following a review undertaken in respect of the use of schools which were currently used as polling places within Wirral for the purposes of Local Authority, Parliamentary and other elections.
The Head of Democratic and Member Services informed Members that the report provided guidance on selecting polling places, the number of schools currently used in the Borough as well as outlining alternative polling places which had been identified by the Returning Officer. He reported that local Ward Members had been consulted in respect of options and costs associated with the hire of alternative venues which were detailed within the exempt Appendix 2 to the report. Members were directed to paragraph 5.2 of the report in which it stated that currently 45 of the designated polling places are schools. However, this number was corrected as it should have stated 41 schools (as confirmed within paragraph 3.2 of the report).
Members of the Committee were asked to consider and comment on the report and determine which polling places (if any) should be moved to an alternative venue to enable implementation for the May 2022 Local Authority Elections.
It was reported that Wirral has 103 polling places of which 41 are schools and that 28 utilise an In-Service Training (INSET) day for the allocated election day. The use of an INSET day is agreed well in advance with headteachers. The remaining 13 schools can stay open to pupils.
The Head of Democratic Services referred to the objective criteria that are used when considering the overall suitability of a polling place or polling station and advised Members of the Committee that if all the proposals outlined within the report were implemented, the anticipated additional cost would be £3,299.08 which would result in the overall cost of polling stations being £30,299.08 which could be met within the existing budget. He further reported that the views of Ward Councillors had been sought on the proposals and from the responses received all supported those proposals outlined within the report. The Director for Children and Young People and the Assistant Director for Education had also been consulted.
Councillor Mitchell queried the need for Heygarth Primary School to be used as a polling place as parents had raised concerns in respect of this when the other schools in this Ward remained open as they were not used as polling stations.
In response, the Head of Democratic Services advised that the overarching ambition was for the polling place to be located within the polling district which imposed some restrictions, however, he advised he would undertake to ensure that all options had been explored.
James, Backhouse, Assistant Director for Education addressed Members of the Committee and reported that all schools have 190 school days with 5 INSET days also allocated within the academic year. Therefore, if the INSET day is not on the election day it would be arranged for another day. As such the education for all schools remained the same, however this year would be slightly different as there will be 189 school days due to the Queen’s Jubilee.
(1) That the report be noted.
(2) That the recommendations outlining the proposed polling stations to be moved from schools outlined within Appendix 1 of the report be implemented.