Category Archives: Democracy

Elections, voting and issues relating to local democracy.

Young riders in City Park for the start of stage 3 of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire

Chief Executive’s blog – June 2017

It’s been too long since I reflected on our work. It has been an extraordinarily busy period. I have kept up with covering my daily activity on Twitter. But I have missed this wider opportunity to communicate with you all.

With the awful events in Manchester at the forefront of my mind I want to thank all our staff. Whether you worked with schools to provide support for young people, spent time in communities and with younger residents listening and reassuring, were deployed as a special as part of the intensified policing, attended the many multi faith and cross community vigils, or got on with the day job whilst the threat level was ‘critical’, you played a part in keeping our communities close, safe and united.

Bradford remembrance after Manchester bombing
Bradford remembrance after Manchester bombing

I want to pay tribute to our health colleagues at Bradford Royal Infirmary who tended to a significant number of wounded Bradfordians arriving at A&E through the night of the bombing, and to police colleagues many of whom have worked twelve-hour six-day shifts over the last week. We hold the 22 who died, the many grieving, wounded and distressed, and the city of Manchester in our thoughts. We stand together.

General Election on Thursday, 8 June

The events in Manchester suspended campaigning in the General Election. But the election date remains Thursday, 8 June. There has been no let-up in the hard backroom work getting everything ready for polling day. The elections team and I normally have six months to prepare for such a significant event. This time we have had six weeks. The elections team have been flat out. Some have had to cancel long planned holidays. They are a small, dedicated and great team.

Elections staff
Elections staff preparing ballot boxes for the general election

Of course their numbers swell to over a thousand for polling day and the count itself.
If you are taking part this year – getting up ridiculously early to set up and open the polling station for 7 am sharp or having a sleepless night to work at the count – thank you.

I know you will take very seriously our responsibility to ensure everyone who is entitled to has the opportunity to vote, free of undue pressure, and that every vote is counted accurately. As we know, elections are lively and hotly contested in our District. I see this as a sign of a healthy and vigorous democracy in action. We are also dedicated to helping ‘promote the vote’ in the run up to polling day and I encourage everyone to exercise their democratic right to vote!

A few highlights – Tour de Yorkshire

But I want to turn now to just a few of the highlights of the last few months. Our delivery of the Tour de Yorkshire was a triumph. Some 400,000 people crammed onto village streets, rural lanes and iconic climbs such as Haworth Main Street. Bunting, land art and impromptu street parties were the order of the day. And who can forget the umbrella tree in Lister Park? Two of our pieces of land art – the now famous Addingham Ducks and Branwell and the Bicycle (celebrating two hundred years since the invention of the bicycle and of Branwell’s birth) have been shortlisted in the TdY land art competition. Go to the Tour de Yorkshire website and vote for one of them! I saw first-hand just how hard people worked to make the event a success – they did us proud.

Praise for how we keep children safe

Recognition of the strength of our team work also came in the inspection of our partnership work on domestic abuse and its impact on the lives of the children of our District. If you haven’t read about the report of the ‘joint targeted area inspection‘ team it is worth doing so. It made me proud of what we do. The report speaks of the commitment of front line workers to serve the best interests of children, of low turnover and high morale amongst social work staff, of great partnership work focussed on the needs of the child, and a quality of work which is making a positive impact on vulnerable children’s lives. The inspectors also commented on the scale, complexity and challenging nature of much of the work. And of course there was learning. We are not complacent. We will address the points raised and make improvements. But across the trade press – the journals that cover our business – there was widespread recognition of just how strong our work is.

Congratulations to Sue Dunkley, our HR Director. She is officially the public sector’s HR Director of the year! This is great news for Sue and Bradford. She was nominated by some of our Future Leaders who conducted a very sophisticated promotional campaign which got everyone talking about what’s happening here in our organisation.

And finally huge thanks to our refuse collectors and customer service staff. They are part way through implementation of significant changes to how and when we collect the bins. We are introducing ‘all in one recycling’ where residents can now recycle more and put it all in one bin. We are also moving over to ‘alternate week collections’. This isn’t an easy change to make. But it’s happening and being handled – on the whole – extremely well.

Waste and recycling advisors helping with the changes to bin collections
Waste and recycling advisors helping with the changes to bin collections

Best wishes

Kersten

PS, as always, for more regular updates, you can follow me on Twitter: @kersten_england

Gearing up for the general election

There will be a general election on Thursday 8 June 2017. If you live in the Bradford district, here is the information you will need to make sure you can vote.

How to register to vote

If you are already registered to vote, you do not need to register again to vote in the general election. If you are not registered to vote, you will need to register by Monday 22 May to vote at the general election.

The quickest way to register to vote is online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Or you can contact our Electoral Services team on 01274 431360.

How to vote if you will be away on 8 June

If you will be away on 8 June, you can apply for a postal vote or you can appoint another person to vote on your behalf by applying for a proxy vote.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on Tuesday 23 May and the deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm on Wednesday 31 May.

Statement by Kersten England

Kersten England, Bradford Council’s Chief Executive and Acting Returning Officer, said: “Following confirmation by the House of Commons, our elections team are now gearing up for a General Election on Thursday, 8 June.

“I am confident that we will deliver a fair and robust elections process so that the citizens of Bradford District are able to exercise their democratic right to vote.

“We have started the process to identify around 240 polling stations across the district and appoint around 1,200 staff to ensure the 343,690 electors currently registered to vote in a Parliamentary election can cast their vote either in person or by post.

Canvassers are visiting some homes to check registered voter details

We have currently got canvassers knocking on doors across the district to confirm the details of people on the electoral register. Our canvassers are out until 7 November working during the daytime, in the evening and at weekends until 8pm.

If you get a visit from one of our canvassers, to confirm the details of who is living in the property, they may ask for your date of birth and National Insurance number. This is the only information they need. This is to confirm your identity and ensure that your details are correct on the electoral register.

You will receive a visit from one of our canvassers if you have not responded to one of the following forms sent in the post:

  • Household enquiry form
  • Invitation to register form

If you have not responded to the forms you received, legally, we have to visit your address to confirm voter details. If you have responded to the forms you received, you should not receive a visit from one of our canvassers.

If you still have the form, but haven’t responded to it yet, please respond to it as soon as possible and we may not need to visit your property. It is quicker and cheaper for you to respond online or by phone rather than us visiting your home.

If anybody in your house needs to register to vote, the quickest and easiest way to do so is on the GOV.UK website.

The video below has more information about why our canvassers are visiting homes and why it is important for you to respond accurately.

2016 elections: where to vote and how to follow

There are elections on Thursday, 5 May. If you will be voting on the day you will have been sent a poll card before the election telling you where to vote.  If you need to check which polling station you should vote at, you can see all Bradford District polling stations on our website.

All polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

This year there are Bradford District elections for seats on Bradford Council and also an election for the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Yorkshire area. When you go to your polling station, you will be given a separate ballot paper for each election.

Counting your votes and declaring results

The Bradford District election count will start at 9.30am on Friday, 6 May. We will publish results on our website as they are declared and we will tweet each result using the hashtag #bradfordvotes.

This year you can also watch live online as the Bradford District election results are declared on Friday morning.

The Police and Crime Commissioner count will start at 2pm on Friday, 6 May. The results of this election will be published on the Wakefield Council website.

Journey of your vote

Have you ever wondered what exactly happens to your vote after you have put it into the ballot box?

After the polling stations close sealed ballot boxes are taken to the count venues for verification. The Returning Officer and count staff in ward teams empty the ballot boxes for verification.

The verification process checks that the number of ballot papers in the ballot boxes tallies with the numbers of ballot papers issued.

Continue reading 2016 elections: where to vote and how to follow

New home for democracy information online

We have created a new section on our website to help you take a more active role in local democracy and to create greater transparency.

To make it as useful as possible we would like your feedback and input.

What you will find in this new democracy section

The new democracy section currently includes:

  • Council meetings information including agendas, minutes, declarations of interest etc
  • Decisions made and forward plans
  • Reports
  • Information on outside bodies which impact Council services
  • Parish councils’ information
  • Councillor, MP and MEP contact information.

Things that are different with the new section are:

  • Information that used to be in different parts of our website is now all together
  • It is now mobile friendly
  • You can now easily link to individual documents
  • All documents relating to a specific agenda item can be linked together
  • You can add a meeting to your own personal calendar
  • A “What’s new” section automatically shows the latest documents
  • You can sign up for alerts about for documents
  • There is a mobile app version

mod.gov mobile app

The mod.gov mobile app will let you download and view papers for Bradford Council meetings on your smartphone or tablet. The app is available from the Google Play Store and from the Apple App Store.

When you first open the app you will see a “Publisher”  screen, where you need to choose Bradford from the list.  Then you choose which committees you are interested in.

We would like your feedback

Does it do what you think it should?

Can you easily find what you are looking for in this new section?

Are you able to do everything you would expect, and want to be able to do? Continue reading New home for democracy information online

How do you feel about devolution and do you want an elected mayor?

The leader of the Council, Councillor David Green, is asking you to email him your views on devolution and having an elected mayor.

The Government has said that regions who opt for devolution and directly elected ‘metro mayors’ will be given additional funding and powers over transport, including running local bus companies, infrastructure and economic development, policing and health.

Bradford’s local economy has benefitted from additional funding and a stronger voice in lobbying Government for resources, to support local economic growth and improve infrastructure, as part of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

West Yorkshire and the City Region is an area of 3 million people and 106,000 businesses. It has the largest city region economy in the north – the second largest in the country.

Cllr David Green, Leader of Bradford Council, said:

“The combined resources of the local authorities and business in the region can bring greater economic prosperity when they operate together. Direct benefits to Bradford include: Over 70 companies receiving a total of £5.2 million from the regional Business Growth Programme, over 240 apprenticeships being created, £5.2 million to develop One City Park, investment to construct two new railway stations at Low Moor and Apperley Bridge and the City Connect cycle scheme.

“People don’t live their lives within local authority boundaries and investment in neighbouring areas can also bring direct benefits to our district, for example making travelling to, from and across Bradford District to work much easier.

“Currently 95% of decisions that affect Bradford and our wider region are made in Whitehall by people who have little or no knowledge of our city, district or region. Decisions should be made at regional and local level by people with specific knowledge and understanding of local needs and opportunities.

“Bradford can continue to benefit from regional investment and increased devolved powers over transport, economic development and infrastructure planning.

“We are working within the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to lobby Government hard to get the best possible deal for Bradford and our region in the next round of devolution discussions. We are building on previous achievements which include gaining the country’s largest Growth Deal from the government, and also £420 million to establish a £1 billion fund for important infrastructure projects.

“We are already talking to Bradford District businesses and local organisations to find out what they think about devolution, but I’d also like to hear the views of local people directly:

What devolved powers do you want?
What powers don’t you want devolved to the region?
And are you prepared to have an elected ‘metro-mayor’ in order to gain devolved powers?”

Have your say now

We would like to know what you think about this. Please email your views to the leader of the Council at WYDevolution@bradford.gov.uk by Friday, 3 July 2015.

2015 Elections: where to vote and how to follow

There are elections on Thursday, 7 May. If you will be voting on the day you will have been sent a poll card before the election telling you where to vote.  If you need to check which polling station you should vote at, you can see all Bradford District polling stations on our website.

All polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

The Parliamentary election count will start when the polls close at 10pm on Thursday. The results will be announced during the night and will be added to our website.

The Bradford District election count will be from 3pm on the afternoon of Friday, 8 May. We will tweet each result and post results on our website as they are announced. We will be using the #bfdelections hashtag on Twitter.