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2021 Elections - Thursday 6 May 2021

Parish elections - Kidderminster Town Council

Key points for candidates and election agents

Date and Timetable of the Election

The Election begins with the publication of the Notice of Election on Monday 22nd March 2021. The statutory timetable for the elections is included in the Candidates and Agents pack.

Delivery of Nomination papers

Nomination papers must, by law, be delivered in person (but this does not have to be the candidate) to the Returning Officer or appointed Deputy Returning Officers, who are based at Wyre Forest House, Finepoint Way, Kidderminster, Worcestershire by 4pm on Thursday 8th April 2021. The deadline is set by law and cannot be extended for any reason.

Please book an appointment for handing in your completed nomination form and associated papers to the Returning Officer or his staff. We would also strongly recommend you book an appointment so the papers can be informally checked for making sure you have filled everything in correctly. If errors are found near to the time of the deadline, it may be too late for you to get them corrected and we will therefore not be able to receive your nomination. Please phone the Elections Office on: 01562 732733 or email electoral@wyreforestdc.gov.uk to book your appointments.

Polling Stations

A list of all the polling stations can be found in the Candidates and Agents pack.

Postal Votes

We would like to remind every candidate, party agent and political party of the Code of Conduct for handling postal vote applications during an election campaign. A copy is included in the Candidates pack.

No candidate or supporter should put themselves in a position where their honesty or integrity, or that of the candidate or party, can be questioned.

An extract from the Commission’s Guidance:

  • You should always advise the voter to speak to the staff at the Elections Office if they have any problems in completing or sending a postal vote.
  • You should not touch, handle or solicit the collection of any ballot paper and should instead encourage the voter to post or deliver the completed ballot paper themselves to avoid situations where questions could be asked of the Party’s or candidates honesty and integrity.

Please provide anyone who is carrying out canvassing on your party’s behalf with a copy of this particular code of conduct.

On the polling day itself, it is too late for an elector to post their postal vote to us but they can take it to their designated polling station. Even on polling day, we would not encourage any party to be collecting completed postal votes on behalf of electors but, if you do, the onus will be on you to make sure that postal votes are returned to the Elections Office as soon as possible.

Allegations of Electoral Offences

If Party Agents / Candidates / Political Parties have concerns and wish to make allegations of electoral fraud or offences, you should report them to the police. You should also be prepared to give a statement and be able to substantiate your allegation.

If members of the public raise allegations of electoral fraud or offences with the Returning Officer, they will likewise be advised to contact the police.

In either of these circumstances, the Returning Officer will make available any relevant information held by him that would support the police in investigating the allegations.

In addition, any information arising from the Elections Office’s own administrative processes that might give rise to suspicion of an electoral offence will be considered by the Returning Officer for reporting to the police. The Elections Office’s own administrative processes do not include phone calls, emails or other correspondence from political parties, agents, candidates etc. As noted above, allegations from political parties should be made direct to the police.

Issuing of postal votes

Postal votes will be collected and delivered by Royal Mail straight from our printers, (FCS). There will be two batches. All of the postal vote data on our system as of 4pm on Thursday 8th April 2021 will form the first batch of postal votes which should be received by electors around 13th April 2021. The second batch will be postal vote applications received from 4pm on Thursday 8th April to 5:00pm on Tuesday 20th April 2021 (close for postal vote applications). These postal votes should be received by electors from Friday 23rd April 2021. Replacement postal votes for any that have been lost or spoilt can only be issued from Thursday 29th April 2021 to 5:00pm on Thursday 6th May 2021.

Postal Vote Opening

A list of the postal vote opening sessions is included in the Candidates and Agents pack. You, or a person appointed by you may attend the opening of returned postal votes which will be undertaken at Wyre Forest House, Finepoint Way, Kidderminster, Worcestershire DY11 7WF for sessions one to fourteen. The final session will also be held at the Wyre Forest Leisure Centre, Silverwoods Way, Kidderminster DY11 7DT, following close of poll at 10pm on Thursday 6th May 2021. You need to ensure the appointment form is completed which is in your pack and returned in advance of the session you are planning to attend. Face coverings must be worn at all times unless you are exempt. Face shields/visors will be issued to anyone attending to wear with their face covering. 

Tellers

We are advising against the use of any tellers at this election due to social distancing and the Covic-19 pandemic!

Your attention is drawn to the enclosed Electoral Commission Guidance and the supplementary paper from the Returning Officer on Tellers which will be displayed at Polling Stations. Please ensure a copy of this guidance is provided to your Tellers, no matter how experienced they are, in order to remind them clearly of their role and the importance that their behaviour is not seen as intimidating by voters.

Campaigning on Polling Day 

The Returning Officer can control issues arising in polling stations or polling places but has no control of issues arising outside of these boundaries. Please see the polling place boundary maps provided in the Candidates and Agents pack. Therefore, the Returning Officer or his staff will no longer be entertaining complaints about campaigning outside of the boundaries of polling places.

As agreed at the meeting of election agents and the police on Monday 13th January 2014 about the campaigning on highways and private land on polling day, if the issue of obstruction is considered serious the police can be contacted as below:

  • 'Live' issues should be reported via 101 (non emergency) or 999 (emergency).
  • Safer Neighbourhood Team staff may visit polling stations during the course of the day.
  • Economic Crime Unit at West Mercia Police Headquarters deal with potential fraud matters. These should be reported via the 101 (non emergency number). Initial attendance and enquiries will be completed at a local level with advice from the Single Point of Contact.

All calls made to the Police will be dealt with in the usual manner. There will be no additional resources due to it being Polling Day.

Parking of Vehicles for Campaigning purposes on Polling Day

There must be no long term parking of vehicles for campaign purposes at the polling place. Vehicles displaying elections material or using loud speakers must be located outside of the polling place boundary- see enclosed maps.

Cars being used to transport electors may need to wait for the elector to vote (e.g. 5 or 10 minutes) and can therefore park in the polling place car park but this must not be an unduly prolonged period.
Election material (e.g. billboards, posters, placards or pamphlets) should not be displayed on walls or fences adjoining the polling place. Any display of such materials should be brought to the attention of the Presiding Officer immediately.

Campaigning on Highways / Private Land on Polling Day

The Returning Officer’s position on issues outside of the polling place is clearly set out in the Campaigning of Polling Day section, as detailed previously, together with the position of the Police with regard to the reporting issues, also above.

In addition, Worcestershire County Council’s property, street furniture (i.e. lampposts, railings, verges) or highway verge are not permitted to display election posters and material for campaigning purposes. If you see any election material displayed on County Council property or street furniture, please contact the Democratic, Governance and Scrutiny Manager on 01905 844871.

After Close of Poll

After the close of poll at 10pm on Thursday 6th May 2020, the sealed ballot boxes will be delivered by the Presiding Officer from the polling stations to Wyre Forest Leisure Centre, Silverwoods Way, Kidderminster, DY11 7DT.

The Presiding Officers will be required to wait whilst their box(es) is / are registered by the Returning Officer and his staff which will include checking that the ballot paper account has been completed accurately and all of the documents and packets have been received and checked.

The Verification and Count

The Verification and Count will be held at 9am on Friday 7th May 2021 at Wyre Forest Leisure Centre, Silverwoods Way, Kidderminster, DY11 7DT. There will be no verification or counting of votes on Thursday 6th May 2021 but candidates and agents are able to attend to observe the receipt of ballot boxes if they wish, and the final opening of postal votes as noted above. The verification will commence at 9am on Friday 7th May 2021 with the count for the Worcestershire County Council elections and Kidderminster Town Council elections to follow.

The count for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections will commence at 9am on Monday 10th May 2021 at Wyre Forest Leisure Centre.

Dealing with Doubtful ballot papers

The Returning Officer will adjudicate doubtful ballot papers regularly as the Count proceeds and will have regard to precedents as set out in various legal commentaries and the guidance provided by the Electoral Commission booklet on doubtful ballot papers, which contains examples of allowed and rejected votes and the key principles to be followed in the adjudication of doubtful ballot papers. Copies of some examples are included in the Candidates and Agents pack.

Declaration of Result

Following the declaration of the results at the Count by the Returning Officer, the results of the election will be available on the Wyre Forest District Council’s websites at (www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk)

Attendance at the Verification and Count

Please note the people listed below are invited to attend for the verification and count of the Election:

  • Candidates
  • Election Agent (County Council election only)
  • Counting Agents (number to be confirmed after the close of nominations but sue to the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing rules this could be zero)

Candidates are reminded to advise their accompanying guest, election agent and counting agents that all mobile or electronic devices they may have with them, must be switched off or to silent once in the count venue. Phone calls can only be made outside of the count room. Photography or filming is not permitted at the count by non media representatives other than when a result is being declared. Any lockdown restrictions in place in May 2021 will depend on whether the café at Wyre Forest Leisure Centre will be open for purchasing refreshments during the count or not.

Acceptance of Office

The successful candidates for Worcestershire County Council Elections will be required to liaise with the Worcestershire County Council staff who will be present at the count, about signing their declaration of acceptance of office before acting as a councillor.

The successful candidates for Kidderminster Town Council Elections will be required to liase with Tony Beirne the Town Clerk about signing their declaration of acceptance of office before acting as a councillor.

Tony Beirne – 01562 732680 – townclerk@kidderminstertowncouncil.gov.uk

The Elections Office

The Elections Team is based at Wyre Forest House, Finepoint Way, Kidderminster, Worcestershire DY11 7WF. On the day of the poll (Thursday 6th May 2021) the Elections Office will be manned from 6:00am to 9:45pm. After 9:45pm, please phone 07515 190917 or 07966 492938 as the officers will be setting up for the receipt of Ballot Boxes.

All of the forms in the Candidates and Agents packs are available electronically. Please let the Elections Office know if you would like certain forms in this format. However, should you have any queries at all, please contact the Elections Office on 01562 732733. If they cannot deal with your query, they will arrange for you to speak to the (Deputy) Returning Officer, Ian Miller, or one of the other deputies.

For further information

Candidates are strongly recommended to review information on the Electoral Commission’s Website which sets out not only the legislation for the running of local elections but best practice for the role of candidates and agents. Some of that information is within the Candidates and Agents pack (www.electoralcommission.org.uk)

The Commission has also established an additional website specific to registering to vote and voter queries about forthcoming elections. For full details, visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

COVID -19

As mentioned above, this election will be taking place with all of the Covid-19 precautions which you will have come accustomed to in everyday life.

  • Wearing of face coverings
  • Hand sanitizer
  • One way systems
  • One out, one in polling stations
  • 2m social distancing
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