19 January 2024
Changes to polling places following public consultation
Changes to the polling districts will take effect from the publication of the revised register on Thursday 1 February
Changes are set to be adopted to the polling places used in Wokingham Borough for future elections following public consultation held late last year. The changes were agreed by Council on Thursday 18 January.
Back in October, Council agreed to undertake a statutory review of polling places and polling districts, as it has a duty to carry out this review at least once every five years. A public consultation was held from 20 October to 19 November, which invited feedback on the current polling scheme and proposals for new locations.
Reviews prompt need for change
Last year, an independent review was carried out by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE). This means there will now be 18 wards in Wokingham Borough, with each represented by three councillors.
In addition, a new parliamentary constituency, Earley and Woodley, has been created alongside the existing parliamentary constituency of Wokingham. This came after a different review by the Boundary Commission for England.
As a result of both independent reviews, the council had to consider carefully where new polling districts were needed with the new warding arrangements, where polling places are best situated within any new polling districts and that locations met the needs of residents.
Although the majority of existing polling places were intended to remain the same, a small number were identified as being unavailable or no longer suitable. Consideration was given to residents with accessibility requirements, as well as a desire to minimise disruption to schools and that polling places have sufficient space to allow staff to check photo ID in private.
Due to the changes implemented following the review by the LGBCE, there were several wards that cut across existing town and parish boundaries. To administer elections effectively, there needs to be separate polling districts for each town, parish and borough ward.
Thank you for your feedback
Andrew Moulton, returning officer at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We are grateful to everyone who took the time to comment during our consultation. Although we appreciate we cannot find the perfect location for all voters, we have endeavoured to minimise the impact of changes on them, while at the same time ensuring all polling places meet necessary Electoral Commission requirements.
“With lots of elections taking place this year, including the all-out borough elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections on Thursday 2 May, it was important for us to get this process right and give residents and other interested parties the chance to tell us about any barriers they faced in exercising their democratic right.”
Following the conclusion of the four-week consultation, a Councillor Working Group met in December to discuss the representations made.
As a result of all these comments, the final proposals contain three changes to the initial proposal set out in the consultation, which were agreed by Council at its meeting on 18 January:
- Residents in Arborfield Green will vote at Arborfield Village Hall instead of Barkham Village Hall as it is a more convenient location for the majority of voters
- Residents in Loddon ward of Woodley will vote at the closer polling station. Voters in the north of the ward will go to a new polling station at Woodley Airfield Centre while other voters will go to Woodley Baptist Church
- Residents in Twyford South will vote at Stanlake Pavilion instead of Hurst Village Hall as it is a more convenient location for voters
Elections taking place in May
All voters should check their poll card for details of their polling station.
Detailed maps that show existing ward and polling districts, as well as current polling places, are available online.
Changes to the polling districts will take effect from the publication of the revised register on Thursday 1 February.
As well as changes to polling places, there are also changes to borough ward boundaries and parliamentary boundaries. Some residents will be voting in a different ward to the one in which they last case their vote. You can read more about these changes by visiting the council’s website.
Anyone who intends to vote in the elections happening locally in May 2024 needs to make sure they are registered to vote. Although it seems some way off, it is really important you get prepared now. Anyone wishing to cast their vote in a polling station will need to bring suitable ID with them. If you do not have suitable ID, you can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate online. Those residents wishing to vote by post or proxy in May can also apply online.
There are important changes to voting in 2024, so please visit the council’s dedicated website page for more information.