Polling places interim review 2022

Overview

This consultation was carried out to support the interim polling district and polling place review in accordance with the legislation. The purpose of the review was to ensure that all polling districts and polling places are, as far as possible, effective, and convenient for voters and accessible to everyone.

Results of the review

Maidstone and The Weald constituency

Existing polling stations and electorate as of December 2021.

Polling district lettersBorough ward and parish (Parish ward)Polling stationElectorateProposals
XASouthYMCA, Melrose Close, Cripple Street2012(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change.
XBSouth Parish: TovilArchbishop Courtenay Primary School, Eccleston Road, 2114(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: It is proposed to use Tovil community centre - YMCA Maidstone, Courtenay Road as a polling place for scheduled elections. Archbishop Courtenay Primary School, Eccleston Road is not suitable as the school must be closed for elections and cannot accommodate last minute closures for unscheduled elections. Tovil community centre - YMCA Maidstone is a suitable polling place and has space to accommodate the stationing of a portacabin in the overflow car park should any unscheduled Parliamentary elections be called. For any unscheduled Local Government Elections Maidstone Hockey Club will be used as a double station.
XCSouthMaidstone Hockey Club, Armstrong Road1079(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change. 
XDSouthMaidstone Hockey Club, Armstrong Road676(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change. 
XXSouthThe Vine, Boughton Lane1536(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change.

Faversham and Mid Kent constituency

Polling district lettersBorough ward and parish (Parish ward)Polling stationElectorateProposals
LHarrietsham and Lenham
Parish: Harrietsham
Harrietsham Village Hall, Church Road2611(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change.
LAHarrietsham and Lenham
Parish: Lenham North
Lenham Community Centre, Groom Way2111(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change.
LBWard: Harrietsham and Lenham
Parish: Lenham North
The Harrow Inn, Warren Street96(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: Normally a small room within the public house is used for voting. Following Government COVID-19 guidelines, the dining area was used instead. As the pub remains open to the public, and there are no walls to contain the conversation within the polling station. It will be difficult to maintain the secrecy of the ballot as the voting process can be overheard. Moving the designation of the polling place from The Harrow Inn to Lenham Community Centre will minimise the disruption for the pub’s clientele and improve the secrecy of the ballot.
LC Ward: Harrietsham and Lenham
Parish: Lenham South
St Edmunds Centre, School Lane733(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change.
MWard: Headcorn
Parish: Boughton Malherbe
Grafty Green Village Hall, Church Road414(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change.
MAWard: Headcorn Parish: East SuttonFilmer Hall, East Sutton212(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change.
MBWard: Headcorn 
Parish: Headcorn
The Hawkenbury Public House156(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: Following Government COVID-19 guidelines, the polling station encroached more space than normal within the public house. As the pub remains open to the public, and there are no structural barriers to distinguish the perimeter of the polling station and the remainder of the building. It will be difficult to maintain the secrecy of the ballot as the voting process can be overheard. Moving the designation of the polling place from The Hawkenbury Public House to Headcorn Baptist Church will minimise the disruption for the pub’s clientele and improve the secrecy of the ballot.
MCWard: Headcorn 
Parish: Headcorn
Headcorn Baptist Church3270(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change.
MDWard: Headcorn Parish:UlcombeUlcombe Village Hall, Headcorn Road690(Acting) Returning Officer’s proposal: no change.

Survey results

Methodology

In the three areas, impacted by the proposals, all households were sent a questionnaire outlining the proposals and asking for views, a freepost envelope was enclosed for ease of response and information about how additional members of the household could participate in the consultation were also included (an online copy of each survey was available on our website). The surveys were open from 10 January 2022 until 20 February 2022.

The survey asked:

  • Do you consider the proposal acceptable?
  • Do you have any comments on the (Acting) Returning Officer’s proposals?

Area

Number of responses

South ward

101

Harrietsham and Lenham ward

12

Headcorn ward

15

Findings

  • 86% of respondents for XB Tovil South ward were in favour of moving the polling station to Tovil YMCA.
  • There was an equal number of negative and positive comments about the proposal for XB Tovil, South ward.
  • 58% of respondents for LB Lenham North, Harrietsham and Lenham Ward were not in favour of moving the polling station from The Harrow Inn to Lenham Community Centre.
  • Negative comments for LB Lenham North, Harrietsham and Lenham Ward expressed concerns over transport to and parking at Lenham community Centre.
  • 69% of respondents for MB Hawkenbury, Headcorn ward were not in favour of moving the polling station from the Hawkesbury public house to Headcorn Baptist Church.
  • Negative comments for MB Hawkenbury, Headcorn ward expressed concerns over the distance to the proposed polling station in Headcorn and parking when attending the polling station.

South ward

Current polling station under review

Proposal

Number of respondents

Archbishop Courtney Primary School

To use Tovil Community Centre – YMCA Maidstone for polling district XB - Tovil Parish

94

Although there were 101 responses received from South ward, 94 answered the question about how acceptable the proposal for South ward was.

The majority answered that they were happy with the proposal to move the polling station for XB Tovil Parish, South Ward  from Archbishops Primary School to the Tovil YMCA.

Question asked: Do you consider the proposal for South ward to be acceptable?

  • Yes - 81
  • No - 13

There were 46 comments from respondents.

Comment nature

Number

Summary

Positive

8

These commenters were positive about the proposal with comments about the YMCA being a more accessible venue as well as general comments stating that the proposal was a sensible or reasonable idea or that they were fine with it.

Negative

8

These comments were negative about the proposal, stating that it is further for people to go. Three stated that St Stephens Hall should be used as the polling station for XB (Tovil).

Neutral

6

These comments did not express strong feelings either way, with several indicating they use a postal vote. One mentioned the need for adequate parking but was not negative about the proposal.

Suggestion

1

It was suggested by one respondent that the Cornwallis Masonic Centre would be a good location for the polling station.

Not applicable

23

Comments in this category included those that simply stated: ‘None’, ‘No comment’ and ‘No’. ‘No’ responses could be interpreted as either No – I don’t have any comments or No – I don’t like the proposal. Due to this ambiguity, they were categorised as Not Applicable.

Harrietsham and Lenham ward

Current polling station under review

Proposal

Number of respondents

The Harrow Inn

To use Lenham Community Centre, Groom Way, Lenham ME17 2QT for polling district LB – Lenham North Parish

12

There were 12 responses received from Harrietsham and Lenham ward LB voting district where the question about how acceptable the proposals to move the polling station from The Harrow Inn to the Lenham Community Centre had been answered.

Overall, 58% said they did not agree with the proposal to move the polling station from The Harrow Inn to Lenham Community Centre.

Question asked: Do you consider the proposal for Harrietsham and Lenham ward  to be acceptable?

  • Yes - 5
  • No - 7

Ten respondents provided a comment:

Comment nature

Number

Summary

Positive

4

Two of these comments mentioned that the Harrow Inn was not in a good state of repair. One mentioned that it was up for sale and the final commenter said they were happy to change venue.

Negative

5

Four of these comments mentioned accessibility issues – needing to drive to the new station and issues with parking once there. Two said they felt there were no issues with the protocols when voting at the Harrow Inn.

Not applicable

1

Comments in this category included those that simply stated: ‘None’, ‘No Comment’ and ‘No’. ‘No’ responses could be interpreted as either No – I don’t have any comments or No – I don’t like the proposal. Due to this ambiguity, they were categorised as Not Applicable.

Headcorn ward

Current polling station under review

Proposal

Number of respondents

Hawkenbury Public House

To use Headcorn Baptist Church 1 Station Road Headcorn TN27 9SB for polling district MB – Headcorn Parish - Hawkenbury.

13

Although there were 15 responses received from MB Hawkenbury, Headcorn ward voting district, 13 answered the question about how acceptable the proposal for Headcorn ward was.

More than two thirds of respondents said they did not find the proposal to move the polling station from the Hawkesbury public house to Headcorn Baptist Church acceptable.

Question asked: Do you consider the proposal for Headcorn to be acceptable?

  • Yes - 4
  • No - 9

Comment Nature

Number

Summary

Positive

2

One commenter said it was easier for them to vote in Headcorn and the other said they didn’t feel that a public house was the right location for a polling station.

Negative

8

All of these commenters mentioned accessibility issues with the proposal. They said they would have to drive to Headcorn and mentioned issues with parking at the Baptist Church.

Not applicable

1

Comments in this category included those that simply stated: ‘None’, ‘No Comment’ and ‘No’. ‘No’ responses could be interpreted as either No – I don’t have any comments or No – I don’t like the proposal. Due to this ambiguity, they were categorised as Not Applicable.

Outcome of consultation

Returning Officers decision

South ward

Proposal: To use Tovil Community Centre – YMCA Maidstone for polling district XB – Tovil Parish

Survey results

  • 86% of respondents for XB Tovil South ward were in favour of moving the polling station to Tovil YMCA.
  • There was an equal number of negative and positive comments about the proposal for XB Tovil, South ward.

101 responses were received from South ward electors, 94 answered the question about acceptable the proposal for South Ward was.

In my opinion, we should change the polling station for the electors of polling district XB from Archbishop Courtney Primary School to Tovil Community Centre – YMCA Maidstone as agreed by the overall response from the consultation.

Archbishop Courtenay Primary School, Eccleston Road is not suitable as the school must be closed for elections and cannot accommodate last minute closures for unscheduled elections. Tovil Community Centre - YMCA Maidstone is a suitable polling place and has space to accommodate the stationing of a portacabin in the overflow car park should any unscheduled Parliamentary elections be called. For any unscheduled local government elections Maidstone Hockey Club will be used as a double station.

Decision: change the polling place for polling district XB from Archbishop Courtenay Primary School to Tovil Community Centre – YMCA Maidstone.

Harrietsham and Lenham ward

Proposal - To use Lenham Community Centre, Groom Way, Lenham ME17 2QT for polling district LB – Lenham North Parish

Survey results

  • 58% of respondents for LB Lenham North, Harrietsham and Lenham ward were not in favour of moving the polling station from The Harrow Inn to Lenham Community Centre.
  • Negative comments for LB Lenham North, Harrietsham and Lenham ward expressed concerns over transport to and parking at Lenham Community Centre.

There were 12 responses received from Harrietsham and Lenham ward LB voting district where the question about how acceptable the proposals to move the polling station from The Harrow Inn to the Lenham Community Centre had been answered.

Overall, 58% said they did not agree with the proposal to move the polling station from The Harrow Inn to Lenham Community Centre.

In my opinion we should change the polling station for the electors of polling district LB from The Harrow Inn to Lenham Community Centre.

Normally a small room within the public house is used for voting. Following Government COVID-19 guidelines, the dining area was used instead. As the pub remains open to the public, and there are no walls to contain the conversation within the polling station. It will be difficult to maintain the secrecy of the ballot as the voting process can be overheard. Moving the designation of the polling place from The Harrow Inn to Lenham Community Centre will minimise the disruption for the pub’s clientele and improve the secrecy of the ballot.

The Harrow Inn is situated in the North Downs and is only accessible by car via narrow country lanes. There is able car parking at Lenham Community Centre. In addition, the availability of the use of The Harrow Inn is under risk of being sold for a change of use to a residential property.

Decision: change the polling station for the electors of polling district LB from The Harrow Inn to Lenham Community Centre.

Headcorn ward

Proposal: to use Headcorn Baptist Church, 1 Station Road, Headcorn TN27 9SB for polling district MB – Headcorn Parish – Hawkenbury

Survey results

  • 69% of respondents for MB Hawkenbury, Headcorn Ward were not in favour of moving the polling station from the Hawkesbury Public House to Headcorn Baptist Church.
  • Negative comments for MB Hawkenbury, Headcorn Ward expressed concerns over the distance to the proposed polling station in Headcorn and parking when attending the polling station.

Although there were 15 responses received from MB Hawkenbury, Headcorn ward voting district, 13 answered the question about how acceptable the proposal for Headcorn ward was. More than two thirds of respondents said they did not find the proposal to move the polling station from the Hawkesbury Public House to Headcorn Baptist Church acceptable.

In my opinion we should remain at the Hawkenbury Public House as the car parking is better in Hawkenbury than Headcorn.

However, the polling station encroached more space than normal within the public house. As the pub remains open to the public, and there are no structural barriers to distinguish the perimeter of the polling station and the remainder of the building. It will be difficult to maintain the secrecy of the ballot as the voting process can be overheard. Moving the designation of the polling place from The Hawkenbury Public House to Headcorn Baptist Church will minimise the disruption for the pub’s clientele and improve the secrecy of the ballot.

Decision – change the polling station for the electors of polling district MB from The Hawkenbury Public House to Headcorn Baptist Church as a temporary measure for this year. A survey will be available at the new polling station for your views about the change of venue.

Time scale

Closed 20 February 2022

Contact us

Email us if you want more information on this consultation.

consultations@maidstone.gov.uk