Agenda item

To consider the report of the Corporate Lead Officer for Democratic Services upon the Polling District, Places and Polling Stations Review 2023


Councillor Bryan Davies, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Democratic Services, Policy, Performance and People and Organisation presented the report to Council noting that The Electoral Administration Act 2006, as amended, introduces a duty on all local authorities to review their polling districts and polling places at least once every five years. He noted that a report was presented to Cabinet on 5 September 2023, where it was agreed to commence the compulsory review on 2 October 2023, with consultation ending on 10 November 2023.


He noted that a preliminary review was conducted within the Ceredigion area with a view to establishing their suitability, and identify any potential alternatives, where considered appropriate, taking into consideration the location, size, availability and accessibility of polling places and stations. 16 responses were received as part of the formal consultation which can be viewed in Appendix A, together with the (Acting) Returning Officer’s comments and proposals.


Councillor Bryan Davies noted that after publishing the agenda, a late response was received from the Llwyncelyn Village Hall noting that they would be willing to give exclusive use as a polling station on polling day. Having considered this late response, he proposed that should the amended recommendation be approved, the recommendation to move the polling station from the Church Hall in Llanarth to the Ysgubor on Bargoed Farm would be completely removed from the recommendations at the end of the report.


Eifion Evans, Chief Executive and (Acting) Returning Officer explained that the Llwyncelyn Chapel Vestry had been deemed unsuitable as a Polling Station, as the Village Hall Committee had insisted upon continuing with other activities at the Hall on the day of election and not been able to guarantee exclusive use on polling day.  Councillor Marc Davies stated that a guarantee from the Llwyncelyn Village Hall Committee that there would be exclusive use for the polling station and that no other activities would be held in the Hall during elections had been sent; and this was confirmed by Lowri Edwards, Corporate Lead Officer of Democratic Services.


Councillor John Roberts queried whether the building alongside Commins Coch School would be available, as it is now closed.  Eifion Evans, confirmed that the building is owned by Ceredigion County council, therefore would not be affected by the closure. 


Councillor Euros Davies noted that he was aware of the consultation but he and the Community Council had failed to provide a response.  He noted that concerns had been raised in terms of transferring the Polling Station from Llanwnnen Church Hall to Ysgol Cwrtnewydd, which could impact upon turnout as the voters in Llanwnnen normally walk to vote.  He asked whether the ’Y Granell’ could be considered as an alternative location.


Eifion Evans explained that the Polling Station in Llanwnnen Church Hall is unsatisfactory and does not meet with the requirements of the Election Act 2022.  It is proposed that the Polling Station is relocated to Ysgol Cwrtnewydd due to the lack of options in Llanwnnen.  ‘Y Granell’ is a public house, and it is therefore unlikely that the landlord would be willing to close the public house for a whole day in order for it to be used as a polling station, whilst ensuring the integrity of the election and the confidentiality of the voting public and ensuring that they would not be disrupted.


Councillor Euros Davies noted that Bargoed Farm is also a public house; however Eifion Evans explained that Bargoed Farm were able to provide a separate building for the polling station.  Councillor Euros Davies also asked whether this goes against the Council’s policy in terms of transport and Carbon Footprint.  Eifion Evans explained that the Election process is completely separate from that of the Council’s duties.


Eifion Evans noted that as (Acting) Returning Officer, he does have delegated powers to review the arrangements at any point, and should Llanwnnen Church Hall receive grant funding to improve the facilities, bringing it up to a standard that is acceptable in terms of the requirements of the Election Act 2022, or if an alternative suitable venue was identified, he would revisit this decision within the 5 year review period.


Councillor Keith Henson asked what would happen if facilities, such as the Old School in Cribyn (Canolfan Steffan) did not become available.  It was confirmed that there is a recommendation to transfer the Polling Station to Felinfach in the short term, and that it would return to Canolfan Steffan in Cribyn once the facilities are up to a suitable standard and available for use as a polling station.


Councillor Eryl Evans asked whether Ysgol y Dderi would close during the day of the election, noting that this would be unfair on the pupils. Eifion Evans confirmed that a separate entrance is provided for pupils at Ysgol y Dderi, Llangybi, and therefore it would remain open on polling day.  Councillor Eryl Evans also asked about parking arrangements for parents dropping off and collecting their children from school.  Eifion Evans confirmed that this would be a matter for the School’s Governing Body.


Councillor Gareth Lloyd asked that individuals Members are notified of any proposals to change the current arrangements in their Ward, as many of them had failed to respond to the consultation.


The proposed change to Llanarth Church Hall was withdrawn.


Following discussion, it was RESOLVED:


a)    To note that no changes are made to Polling Districts;

b)    That the following changes are made to Polling Places and Polling   Stations

·       Salvation Army moves to Canolfan Morlan, Aberystwyth;

·       Llanwnnen Church Hall moves to Ysgol Cwrtnewydd;

·       Betws Ifan Community Hall moves to Beulah Chapel Vestry;

·       Bryngwyn Chapel Vestry moves to Beulah Chapel Vestry;

·       Llandygwydd moves to Beulah Chapel Vestry;

·       Llangybi Hall moves to Community Centre at Ysgol Y Dderi;

·       Neuadd y Paith moves to Llanfarian Village Hall;

·       Llwyncelyn Chapel Vestry moves to Llwyncelyn Village Hall;

·       Canolfan y Dyffryn moves to Aberporth Village Hall.


c)    That contingency arrangements are put in place for the following Polling Stations:

·       Harbour House, Trefechan to use Aberystwyth Football Club;

·       Canolfan Steffan, Cribyn to use Felinfach Memorial Hall;

·       Neuadd Aberporth to use Canolfan y Dyffryn.

Supporting documents: