Councillor Gwynne asked the Countryside Portfolio Holder the following question:
"Following on from the motion that was passed by Council on 16th November 2022 to protect the Rivers Anton, Blackwater, Dunn and Test - can the Countryside Portfolio Holder please provide an update on the progress re the 8 actions associated with this motion. The update to include whether responses have been received re letters sent, and anything further that is yet to take place".
Councillor Johnston confirmed that the letters had been sent. In writing those letters, Councillor Johnston advised that she had ensured that reference was made to the current picture in terms of legislation and Government initiatives. In writing to the regional director of the National Farmers Union, Councillor Johnston asked specifically about the Government’s Slurry Infrastructure Grant, intended to help limit run off into water courses from slurry heaps, and requested that the Council be informed of any successful applications within the Borough.
In addition to the letters as set out in the motion, Councillor Johnston intended to establish a dialogue with the two local river charities and work with officer to publicise good practice. Councillor Johnston would keep members updated on any further responses to the letters.
Councillor Parker asked the Democracy and Governance Portfolio Holder the following question:
“I note and am grateful for the various briefing notes from Frances Cleland concerning the government’s requirement for photographic voter ID at the May elections. Can you advise me of the plans to acquire further equipment and to recruit and train polling station staff to support the government’s requirements for photographic voter ID for this May’s elections and confirm whether all the plans are on track?”
Councillor Jeffrey reported that the electoral services team had been working hard to ensure that everyone who wished to vote in May’s elections were able to do so. There is an extensive project plan in place to ensure that all key milestones are reached and he confirmed that these were currently all being met. An audit of polling stations to ascertain what facilities they have in place for the private checking of ID should it be requested had been carried out and, where there was not a suitable alternative space available, privacy screens will be provided at those stations. These had already been purchased, along with mirrors so that anyone who needs to replace a religious face covering would be easily able to do so.
All polling station staff would receive full training on these changes, to help them understand the new requirements and processes that they will be carrying out in May. Polling station staff will also be supported by additional resources from the Electoral Commission, such as their polling station handbook, as well as being able to contact the electoral services team throughout polling day with any queries they may have.
Funding to cover the additional costs of any equipment and training is being provided by central government.
Councillor Parker asked a supplementary question enquiring as to the cost to date of the additional measures and the forecast additional cost up to the elections in May.
Councillor Jeffrey advised that the information wold be circulated outside of the meeting.