Report of the Town Clerk.
The Committee considered a report of the Town Clerk concerning electoral registration and associated matters.
The Assistant Town Clerk spoke to introduce the item, updating on feedback received from Members in advance of this meeting and outlining proposals to recruit a dedicated Campaign Manager to help further efforts in this area.
During discussion of the report, the following points arose:
· Several Members urged that further approaches be made to the Cabinet Office in respect of electronic voting and other mechanisms to widen the franchise, suggesting that the different electoral situation in the City leant real weight to change and such steps would strengthen the City’s democratic legitimacy.
· Other Members, noting the amendments to primary legislation that would be required to achieve this, suggested that it would be unrealistic to expect to achieve change any time soon in this area, given Government was preoccupied with matters such as COVID and Brexit. It was felt, therefore, to be more pragmatic to focus on achieving realistic improvements within the powers of the City Corporation.
· Members expressed strong support for proposals to put additional resource into this area, emphasising the importance of utilising the opportunity at hand to ensure that both registration and turnout levels were increased significantly.
· A suggestion was made that a more proactive approach in respect of registration should be adopted, approaching new occupiers immediately following a property sale to engage as early as possible. Dedicated officer support for responding to and engaging with queries from prospective voters was also suggested.
· With reference to achieving increased turnout, a Member observed that there was also a role for Members in energising and appealing to the electorate, thereby encouraging greater participation from voters.
RESOLVED: That Members:-
1. Agree thatthe previouslyapproved allocationof £127,000from theCommittee’s contingency fund, intended to meetthe costof electoral and registrationpromotional activities,be transferredfrom 2020/21 contingency to 2021/22.
2. Note theadditional activitiesreferred toin paragraphs25 to30 ofthe report and thata moredetailed reporton theseactivities, including cost, would be forthcoming in respect of those being progressed.