Friday, 24 August 2012

Electoral Issues - Barnet FoI response to Barnet Eye FoI Request

24 August 2012

 Our ref: 179556

Thank you for your request received on 4 August 2012, for the following information:

For the purpose of clarity, please can you provide documentary verification that all of the items recommended have been implemented and regularly reviewed.

This request relates to your email of 25 July 2012 below:

…Please can you confirm that all recommended actions in the report have been completed and produce documentary evidence to support this.

1.    There should be an elections book to pick up lessons learned from one election to the next, and which can be picked up to inform any member of a future elections team what needs to be done.

2.    Consider future recruitment of an elections manager

3.    Put in place a more detailed project plan for next election, with clearer contingency arrangements. This should use the Electoral Commission template that has been produced , supplemented as necessary to take account of Barnet specific circumstances and the findings of this report.

4.    Review polling districts and the location of poll stations within them to ensure an appropriate number of electors are within each district

5.    Write to the appropriate body to support The Electoral Commission findings in respect of the timetable for Parliamentary elections and the arrangements to enable overseas voters and service personnel to vote

6.    Communications campaign to encourage voters to vote early.

7.    Procurement arrangements for next election should all use central arrangements (incl written contracts with clear levels of service)

8.    A review of STRAND should be conducted

9.    Others:
Staffing arrangements HR to handle recruitment of count staff for large elections in future
Role of DROs 
Precise arrangements for agents briefing meeting


Given that two years have elapsed since the problems occurred and we have a coalition government, would it be reasonable to expect that all of these actions have been completed?

Given that we recently had the GLA elections, it is interesting to note that I was unaware of any effort to encourage voters to vote early as recommended. Maybe you could provide details of such a campaign?

I would expect all of these recommendations to have been completed prior to the Mayoral/GLA elections.


Much of the information you are requesting is held by the Returning Officer (RO) and Electoral Returning officer (ERO).   EROs and ROs are separate legal entities from the council; they are not listed as public authorities in Schedule 1 of FOIA and are therefore not obliged to respond FOIA requests. The council can only provide information that it holds under FOIA however information held on behalf of the RO and ERO is not held by the council and therefore not covered by FOIA.  

The RO has already confirmed to you that the recommendations made following the Elections review have all been implemented as part of an action plan.  I can by way of advice and assistance provide the information:

  • The ‘elections book’ has taken the form of the lessons learned and captured from the 2010 elections  and subsequently the review documents from both the 2011 UKPVS Referendum and the 2012 London Mayoral and GLA Assembly Member elections, which have been captured and reviewed in order to inform and assist  future election events.
  • Following secondment onto the projects managing both the Referendum and GLA elections, an Election Projects Manager was permanently appointed in May 2012.
  • The Elections Project Manager utilised detailed project and contingency planning for both the Referendum and GLA elections, which in both instances was based upon initial work completed using the Electoral Commission planning template.
  • A review of polling districts and stations was carried out by the Elections Manager throughout autumn 2011 and considered at the General Functions Committee in January 2012 and implemented for the GLA elections.
  •  The communications campaign for the GLA elections was managed across London by the team at London Elect, however Barnet specifically issued (and posted on its website) a press release on 30 April; a message dedicated purely to encouraging early voting on 3 May (GLA polling day). Please see  the following link  on the council’s website:

  • Central arrangements were adhered to for the required procurements (most specifically for election printing services) for both the referendum and GLA elections and contracts were put in place via Delegated Powers Reports (DPRs). The DPRs can be viewed by clicking on the links below:

  • A review of STRAND was conducted by IS staff who worked on the 2010 elections and hardware changes were implemented ahead of the referendum.
  • Others:
-       for both the referendum and the GLA elections, an officer from HR was drafted into the elections project team to manage staff recruitment for both polling and count duties
-       both the role of DROs and arrangements for agents meetings were contained within the project plans for the election events.

Your Rights

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been handled, you can request a review within the next 20 working days by writing to the FOI Officer at: The London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London, N11 1NP (email

If, having exhausted our review procedure, you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you will have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 0303 123 1113; website  There is no charge for making an appeal.

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