Responsibility for registering for council tax is on councils, not residents

Let’s hope our CEO and Electoral Officer manages to do a good job …. as he did manage to “lose” more than 6,000 voters a little while back …..

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/litigation-and-enforcement/400-litigation-news/40025-court-of-appeal-rejects-legal-duty-for-council-tax-purposes-to-disclose-fact-of-residence

Why all the good news? Because on 26 March “purdah” starts before local elections!

Expect a lot of good news from the majority party at EDDC for the rest of this month. Why? Because all political new from EDDC (not its individual councillors) has to STOP on 26 March 2019.

Why?

As local elections take place on 2 May 2019, a period of weeks before the election is called “purdah” and councils must stop pushing politicised events and publications to avoid charges of unduly influencing electors to vote for them.

A good explanation of purdah (and what to look out for if officers or councillors break these rules) can be found here:

https://www.local.gov.uk/about/our-meetings-and-leadership/political-composition/local-government-elections

“How to register to vote (spoiler: it’s very easy)”

“DON’T MISS OUT ON YOUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS

Deadline to register

for the May 2019 local elections across large parts of England:

Friday 12 April

To be able to vote, you have to be on the electoral register and to do that, you have to fill in a simple online form. Completing other official paperwork, such as getting a passport, paying Council Tax or getting a driving license doesn’t result in you being automatically added to the register. It is a separate process.

You only need to register once; you don’t need to register separately for every election. However, you do need to register again if you change your address, name or nationality.

You have to be 18 on polling day to vote (or 16 for Scottish Parliament and local elections, along with some but not all referendums). For that reason, you can register in advance of your 18th birthday so that if an election is called whilst you are under-age but you will be 18 on polling day, you can therefore still get your vote.

EU citizens are able to vote in the UK by the way – for council elections although not for the Westminster Parliamentary elections. Commonwealth and Irish citizens can also register to vote and they’re allowed to vote in all types of elections.

To register online right now, head over to the official registration site:

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

If voting in person isn’t the right option for you, either for a temporary or permanent reason, then once who are on the register you can also apply for a postal vote:

https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/how-do-i-vote/voting-by-post

or appoint someone to vote on your behalf (a proxy vote):

https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/how-do-i-vote/voting-by-proxy

Got 5? Register to vote in the 2019 local elections!”

https://www.markpack.org.uk/8456/how-to-register-to-vote/?goal=0_8f22492d8e-73a05f74d3-312639877

Trek to new EDDC HQ in the evening if you want to be a councillor …

Just one small point. If you don’t have a car and no buses are running in the early or late evening (as happens now) how do you get to Blackout House (sic) for this meeting (or any other meeting for that matter) from Exmouth, Axminster, Seaton, Colyton or any outlying villages? Only Cranbrook and Sidmouth are served by late (after 5 pm) direct buses, and a train journey would be horrendously expensive.

Why do the people have to go to the Election Officer in the evening? Why isn’t the Election Officer going to ALL the people daytime and evening(so far Owl has heard of only one other town meeting in Ottery St Mary)? And making all those meetings accessible to disabled people?

Anyone would think people other than those in the very well represented Tory Party were being discouraged from standing …

“Representatives from East Devon District Council (EDDC) will be available on Monday (March 4) to discuss what the role involves and how residents can put themselves forward for the election.

The East Devon district is divided into 32 electoral wards, represented by 59 councillors who are elected for four years.

The next election for parish, town and district council positions will take place on Thursday, May 2.

The drop in session on Monday will be held between 4pm and 7pm at East Devon District Council’s new headquarters at Blackdown House in Honiton.

In attendance will be the returning officer, deputy returning officer and electoral services manager. They will be able to discuss the process, as well as whether a prospective candidate is eligible to stand.

Nomination packs will be available on the evening.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/drop-in-session-for-prospective-election-candidates-1-5910780

Large part of Seaton now in Branscombe and Beer electoral district!

Beer and Branscombe

Previous Beer and Branscombe District wards combined with part of the previous Seaton District ward. New part is called Beer Road.

Properties moved from Seaton to the Beer Road register:

Alleyn Court
Beer Hill
Part of Beer Road (53 properties)
Part of Castle Hill (10 properties)
Durley Road
Part of Fremington Road (18 properties)
Highcliffe Close
Highcliffe Crescent
Part of Marlpit Lane (19 properties)
Previous Beer Road
Paddock Close
Wessiters
West Acres
Westcliffe Terrace

This means that western Seaton will actually be considered an adjunct to Beer and Branscombe and will NOT be represented by “Seaton” councillors and people on the same road will have different councillors depending on which part of the road they live on! And those councillors for western Seaton will have far more voters in Beer and Branscombe!

Madness …

“Chief exec suspended over election failures leaves council by mutual consent”

Amongst other things, our CEO “misplaced” 6,000 voters by using inadequate means of registering them and had to explain himself (not terribly well in Owl’s opinion) to a Parliamentary committee:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2014/10/14/official-transcript-of-eddc-ceo-evidence-to-parliamentary-committee-on-voter-engagement/

“A chief executive who was suspended over failures in the running of the 2017 general election process has left by mutual consent.

John Sellgren was suspended from his post at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council in November 2017 after a review by Andrew Scallon, of the Association of Electoral Administrators, which found that more than 500 postal voters were disenfranchised, and close to 1,000 potential electors not included on the register.

A statement from the council on Sellgren’s departure said: “We would like to place on record our thanks for John’s efforts during his seven years with us. The council recently had its first all-out elections and the new administration has an ambitious manifesto and many significant projects to deliver in the years ahead.

“With this in mind the authority will now consider what management leadership arrangements to put in place to support this programme.”

Sellgren said: “I have enjoyed my time at Newcastle and send my best wishes to the dedicated team of staff and partners with whom it has been a pleasure to have worked.”

The council said it wanted to point out that there had been no additional payments made to Mr Sellgren.

Labour’s Paul Farrelly held the Newcastle-under-Lyme seat by 30 votes with 21,124 to his Conservative rival’s 21,094.

The Scallon report was commissioned shortly after the election when claims were made that some students at Keele University and postal voters were unable to vote despite following the correct procedures.
Some said they were turned away from polling stations despite having polling cards with them, and others who said they had registered to vote by the deadline were turned away for not having provided extra information required.

Scallon’s report said: “Human error and judgement and a lack of knowledge were responsible for the things that went wrong and led to the disenfranchisement of a significant number of people, raising questions about the mandate of the candidate declared elected as Newcastle-under-Lyme’s member of Parliament.”

He noted inadequate performance by Mr Sellgren (as acting returning officer/electoral registration officer) and consultants, worsened by a lack of experience among elections office staff and over-reliance on a software system, which was not properly managed.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36393%3Achief-exec-suspended-over-election-failures-leaves-council-by-mutual-consent&catid=59&Itemid=27

Voter registration for 2019 local elections begins

Owl says: keep an eye out for house-to-house canvassers for those who do not register. They have been few and far between in recent years, leading to around 6,000 eligible voters having been “missed”, leading to embarrassing questions (and answers) to EDDC’s Electoral Registration Officer (EDDC CEO Mark Williams, paid extra for this job) in Parliament:

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/political-and-constitutional-reform-committee/voter-engagement-in-the-uk/oral/14118.html

“As part of East Devon’s annual voter registration canvass, households will soon be receiving a form asking residents to check whether the information that appears on the electoral register for those living at their address is correct.

The aim of the form is to ensure that the electoral register is up to date and to identify any residents who are not registered so that they can be encouraged to do so.

Local district, town and parish council elections are scheduled to take place in May 2019.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/east-devon-district-council-reminder-to-register-to-vote-1-5622986

People are urged to take the opportunity to make sure that when the elections take place, they will easily be able to take part.

Any residents who have any questions can contact the electoral services team at electoralservices@eastdevon.gov.uk or on 01395 571529