Conservative councillors in charge of Barnet Council have accepted that a second, wider review into the Council's running of elections is needed and will take place after the Labour Group raised objections to the current narrow investigation at last night's Annual Meeting.
In his speech to the meeting Labour Group Leader, Cllr Barry Rawlings said he did not believe the Council's current investigation into the election shambles on 5th May, where hundreds of electors were unable to vote, went far enough.
He said he could not agree to the current investigation Terms of Reference because they were too narrow, and he moved a motion calling for a wider review to take place to look into the resourcing of electoral services, electoral registration, the administration of postal votes, the number and location of polling stations and the preparation for elections including whether arrangements on the day were adequate.
Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said, " ‘Bungling Barnet’ has become the byword for bad government, and no-one enjoys the fact that our Borough, which we should be proud of, has become a national laughing-stock because of the recent election fiasco. But it doesn’t have to be like this, Barnet deserves better.
"While a brief investigation is taking place to uncover what happened on the 5th May and what needs to be done to avoid the same disaster happening again I simply do not believe that the parameters of this review go far enough.
"There is a review after each election looking at any problems, and in successive elections similar issues crop up about adequate resourcing, experience of staff, problems with electoral registration, non-receipt of polling cards and postal votes, and the location of polling stations. Clearly there are still problems in these areas, and we need to get it right.
"I believe it would be a dereliction of our civic responsibility not to have a second, wider investigation into these long running issues.
"And I look forward to some political accountability at the end of these investigations and reviews because the one constant factor has been the presiding administration."
- Full text of Cllr Rawlings' motion follows:
Motion in the name of Cllr Barry Rawlings
That Council agrees that a wider, more general review of Electoral Services and Electoral Registration is undertaken to include but not be limited to:
- Whether the resourcing and staffing of Electoral Services and Electoral Registration is adequate
- How effectively polling cards, postal votes and proxy votes are being administered
- Whether there are a sufficient number of polling districts for the population of each ward, and
- Whether the location of polling stations in each ward are accessible to electors in each polling district
- The adequacy of preparations for elections and the arrangements on the day, including the election centre hotline.
- Whether recommendations from previous election reviews have been implemented, and all lessons learned
- Any other relevant matters to be agreed by General Functions Committee.
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568