Brighton & Hove City Council are conducting a full review of its polling districts and polling places under Section 18 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 and in line with the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013.
This review comes at a time of significant change to electoral administration in Brighton & Hove with the reforms introduced by the Elections Act 2022, the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act, the Local Government Boundary Commission England’s (LGBCE) new warding scheme for the City and the Boundary Commission for England’s (BCE) latest parliamentary constituency boundary proposals.
Ward Boundary Review
The LGBCE completed their review of Brighton & Hove’s wards in October 2022. Their final recommendations have made changes to boundaries across the City. While the number of Councillors remains the same – the number of wards has risen from 21 to 23. From May 2023 the wards in Brighton & Hove will be:
- Brunswick and Adelaide
- Central Hove
- Coldean and Stanmer
- Hangleton and Knoll
- Hanover and Elm Grove
- Hollingdean and Fiveways
- Moulsecoomb and Bevendean
- North Portslade
- Patcham and Hollingbury
- Preston Park
- Queen’s Park
- Rottingdean and West Saltdean
- Round Hill
- South Portslade
- West Hill and North Laine
- Westbourne and Poets' Corner
- Westdene and Hove Park
- Whitehawk and Marina
Parliamentary Constituency Boundary Review
The BCE held their first public consultation period from 8 June to 8 August 2021, and a second consultation from 22 February to 4 April 2022. The Commission’s latest proposals and responses to the consultations are on the BCE consultation portal. A final consultation is now running from 8 November to 5 December 2022 inclusive.
In the latest proposals, the constituencies in Brighton & Hove remain similar to the current boundaries. The only changes are:
- Hove constituency renamed Hove and Portslade
- The polling districts PHEA and PHEF in Hanover & Elm Grove ward move from Brighton Pavilion to Brighton Kemptown. These polling districts are around the Pankhurst Estate.
Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act
The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act repeals the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. The Act allows the Prime Minister to request a dissolution from the Sovereign which, if granted, would enable the Prime Minister to call a general election at a time of their choosing. The (Acting) Returning Officer can now receive just 25 working days to run a general election. A general election must take place by 28 January 2025 but the date is not fixed and therefore cannot be pre-planned for.
Elections Act 2022
The Elections Act 2022 will make big changes to the way elections run. The changes that will affect polling places include:
- Voter Identification - From May 2023, electors will show photo identification when they vote at a polling station. If an elector does not have suitable identification then they can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate. Returning Officers will need to provide areas where electors can show their face in private. Polling station electors will be contacted about the changes in January 2023.
- Accessibility. From May 2023, Returning Officers will provide specialist equipment to voters with disabilities - if needed. Anyone over the age of 18 may assist disabled voters in the polling station.
- Postal Votes returned to Polling Stations - From July 2023, electors will sign a declaration form when returning postal voting packs to polling stations. There will be a limit on the number of packs a person can return.
As a result of the Elections Act changes, Returning Officers will need to:
- work to new ratios guiding the acceptable electorate size of a polling station
- consider how Presiding Officers will cope with a significant increase in their workload
- consider how questions and robust feedback about voter identification are best dealt with in polling stations
- consider how core and polling station staff resources can be best utilised.
In consultation with the (Acting) Returning Officer, the Electoral Services Management Team, Elections Project Board and the Council’s Group Leaders it was agreed that to mitigate the impact of the changes, the new scheme should be developed with the following principles:
- assign a polling place to each polling district and elector
- so far as is reasonable and practicable ensure every polling station is accessible to electors who are disabled
- help facilitate the safe and efficient delivery of local and parliamentary elections
- reduce the number of polling places and increases the number of double/triple stations, where possible. This will enable polling places to benefit from a higher proportion of senior staff who can deal with queries
- ensure the majority of polling stations have between 1,250 to 1,750 polling station electors. This will ensure that polling stations are not too busy or quiet, our staffing resources are best utilised and Electoral Commission ratios do not require further polling station splits.
- so far as is reasonable and practicable, ensure electors will not have to walk more than 15 minutes to their polling place
- where possible, limit the use of schools
- where possible, avoid the use of temporary buildings
- implement the LGBCE ward boundary changes
- futureproof against proposed BCE parliamentary boundary changes
- ensure a wide audience are consulted about the changes
The Council and Returning Officer would like to use this opportunity, to highlight their appreciation for the continued co-operation of polling places in providing their buildings for the day so that electors have a convenient place to vote.