Agenda and minutes

General Purposes Committee - Monday, 9th October, 2023 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katherine Street, Croydon, CRo 1NX

Contact: Marianna Ritchie  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence from any members of the Committee.



Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Appu Srinivasan,

Patricia Hay- Justice and Karen Jewitt.


Councillor Matt Griffiths attended as reserve for Councillor Appu Srinivasan.


Apologies of lateness were received from Councillor Kola Agboola.


Disclosure of Interests

Members are invited to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) they may have in relation to any item(s) of business on today’s agenda.


There were none.



Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 21st February 2023 as an accurate record of the proceedings.





The minutes of the meeting held on 21 February 2023 be agreed as an accurate record.




Proposed Changes to the Constitution Relating to Pension Matters pdf icon PDF 93 KB

This report contains proposed changes to the Constitution relating to pensions matters.

Additional documents:


The Pension Fund Investment Manager Matthew Hallet presented the report which proposed changes to the Constitution relating to pensions matters. He informed the committee the changes were recommended by the Constitution Working Group (CWG) and the proposals were developed in consultation with the Pension Committee, Pension Board and Aon (the pension fund advisers) to improve governance and update the constitution. He advised the committee to recommend the changes to full Council for adoption.


The committee expressed confidence that the changes had been subjected to a robust process which involved due diligence performed by officers with the relevant expertise and approval by the Pension Board and Pensions Committee.



The proposed changes in the Constitution relating to pension matters be recommended to Council for adoption.


Independent Review of the Verification and Count Arrangements for Croydon Council Elections May 2022 pdf icon PDF 137 KB

This report presents the independent review of the verification and count arrangements for Croydon Council elections.

Additional documents:


The Director of Policy, Programmes & Performance, David Courcoux, presented the report which set out the independent review of the verification and count arrangements for Croydon Council elections. He informed the committee that the report had concluded that the outcome of the verification and count was transparent, safe and secure.


He highlighted the following sections:


Section 5.1 -  which stated that the election fulfilled all of the statutory requirements and was an accurate reflection as it was confirmed that no potential candidate was denied the right to stand for office and no voters were disenfranchised by the politically neutral way the election was conducted

Section 5.3 – which acknowledged, at time of the elections, the Council was going through significant challenges and had more ballot papers to count than any other London Borough because of the combination of the Mayoral with other elections. Though the 600 votes difference in the Mayoral elections led to significantly tight processes being employed throughout the counting process, which made the count slower, but this safeguarded the integrity of the outcome and the review found that this was the right thing to do. However, there were lessons to be learned with regards to resource arrangements and the effectiveness of the processes and policies in place.


Section 5.7 which summarised the areas of challenge and improvement for the Council, such as, the planning for the election process, the capacity of the core elections team, the reception arrangements at the count venue, the contingency planning and escalation procedures, and the processes employed in the counting process which added to the delay.

He informed the Committee that the report set out eleven key recommendations which were for change, reiterations of best practice, and some the Council had already adopted and enacted. The action plan at Appendix Two, which was still being developed, set out the Council's intended response to the recommendations, as well as provided detailed updates on the progress to date. The Action Plan was developed by an independent person, the Head of Electoral Services at Sutton Council and she would work closely with the Head of Elections Croydon during the implementation.

The Chief Executive Katherine Kerswell and the Deputy Chief Executive Elaine Jackson, the Director of the Director of Policy, Programmes & Performance, David Courcoux, the Head of Elections Seth Alker, provided answers to the following questions from Members.

In response to a question about an informal response to the review and if officers were confident the action plan would result in significant improvement over 2022, The Chief Executive advised the report had been helpful as a learning experience and had positively impacted the Council’s culture around elections and the structure of the electoral service was being redesigned with the understanding that it had to be well resourced to support the delivery of well-run elections. Also the culture around elections was changing to give elections a central position in the council’s thinking. 

Members asked what lessons had been learnt about logistics of holding elections in Croydon and ensuring  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/22


Process For and Initiation of the Statutory Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2024-2025 pdf icon PDF 168 KB

This report sets out the proposed timetable and processes for the next review of Polling Districts and Polling Places.


The Head of Elections, Seth Alker, introduced the report which sought for approval for the proposed timetable and processes for the next review, and to delegate authority to the (Acting) Returning Officer (ARO) to amend the timetable as necessary if the next scheduled general election fails to take place in May 2024.


He highlighted the timetable, process, and the criteria for theassessment of polling districts and polling places and informed the committee the recommendations would be presented to the committee for approval.


In response to a question about the location of polling places, the officer explained that the starting point was to try and locate the polling places within the polling district but sometimes it could not be helped if issues such as closure of a venue means the next available polling place may fall out of the polling district.


A Member asked for the number problematic polling places and the decision timeline. The officer explained there were about ten polling places that were being reviewed but not all outcomes were negative. Sometimes the outcome could be positive such an additional polling place in a polling district.


The Chair thanked the Head of Elections for the Report.




1.     Agree the proposed timetable for the next statutory review of polling districts and polling places set out in section 4.2.


2.    Agree the criteria for assessment of polling districts and polling places as set out in section 4.5.


3.    Agree to the proposed consultation process as set out in Section 6, whilst noting that this is in accordance with the statutory requirements in this regard.


4.    Delegate to the (Acting) Returning Officer authority to amend the timetable as necessary if the next scheduled general election, which must take place by January 2025, does not take place in May 2024.


5.    Note that this was a statutory process and that the period in which it must take place, and a number of the steps in the review process are set out in legislation. The outcome of the statutory consultation as well as the recommendations arising from the consultation will be reported to members for decision.





Implications of The Elections Act 2022 pdf icon PDF 80 KB

This report sets out the implications of The Elections Act 2022.

Additional documents:


The Committee received the presentation from the Head of Elections which set out the changes to the Elections Act, how they would affect voters, when the changes would take place and how they would be implemented.


He highlighted the following changes:


·       Voter ID - electors would be required to show photo ID before voting at a polling station (in force)

·       Accessibility - supporting voters with disabilities and an extension to rules for companions (in force)

·       First Past the Post (FPTP) - all elections in the UK were now FPTP (in force)

·       Absent voting - rules regarding handling and processing absent vote applications (for May 2024 elections)

·       Postal & proxy voting at election - electors would be able to apply to vote by post online - existing

·       postal voters would need to renew every 3 years under the new rules (October 2023)

·       Overseas electors - 15-year rule removed (no upper limit) and registration period extended to 3 years (January 2024)

·       EU Citizens’ voting and candidacy rights - EU citizens would no longer automatically be entitled to register to vote and stand for election. Two groups of EU citizens will retain rights (June 2024 – 1 Feb 2025).


He advised that most of the changes would be implemented ahead of the Mayor of London and London Assembly elections.


In response to concerns about acceptable forms of ID and IT issues the elderly might encounter during the application for the ID, the officer advised that other acceptable forms of identification were photo IDs, blue badges, identity cards, and bus passes and there was the option for people to apply for a voter authority certificate.

A Member asked about the availability of staff training and officers advised the government was providing funding to train staff in helping to explain about the various forms acceptable ID to voters. Also, the communication team was working on an engagement plan to reach councillors, political parties, and community organisations and MENCAP were developing communication materials for residents with learning difficulties.


In response to a question about an advertising campaign to highlight the change to EU citizens voting and candidacy rights, the officer advised the changes would not take effect until June 2024 and presently, there was no detailed guidance from the government but officers were expecting a campaign from the Electoral Commission before June 2024, which would provide resources that could be used locally to create awareness and highlight this change to Croydon residents from the European Union.


The Chief Executive also advised there would be an all-Member briefing for all Councillors on these changes.


RESOLVEDTO: Note the presentation.




Urgent Business (if any)

To discuss any urgent business if any.



There were no items of urgent business.