Decision details

District and parish council elections - May 2011

Decision Maker: Audit and Governance Committee

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The committee considered the chief executive and returning officer’s report on the costs and accounting arrangements of the district and parish council elections held in May 2011.  This was the first report of its kind, reporting on the accounting for the local elections. 


The committee noted that the cost of running the 2011 local elections had been significantly lower than predicted at budget setting time.  This was for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The government had decided to hold a national referendum on alternative voting methods.  The government used the same date as that for local elections to reduce costs to both the government and local councils.  The government paid for the costs of the referendum
  • There were fewer town and parish council elections in 2011 than predicted.  The number of elections required was unknown until the nominations deadline had passed.  Town and parish councils were required to pay for their own elections
  • Following problems in the lead up to the elections, the returning officer had negotiated a discount from the elections printer as it had not fulfilled its contract
  • The returning officer had not claimed his fee for the district and parish council elections


The committee questioned whether professional project planners should have been used to assist officers.  In response, the officers reported that the reasons for the budget variance were difficult to predict but accepted that project planning advice could be sought to assist with financial planning for future local elections. 


Councillors asked how much discount the council had received from the elections printer.  The returning officer reported that this was confidential information he could not disclose.  Instead, the committee asked to see the estimated cost of the 2011 local elections, had the printer fulfilled its contract and had the government not held a referendum.  The committee wished to compare the original budget with the expected outcome, had these variables not occurred.  This would help the council learn for the next local elections. 




(a)               note the information provided in the report on the costs of and accounting arrangements for the May 2011 district and parish council elections; and


(b)               request the returning officer to provide the committee with an analysis of the estimated cost of the 2011 local elections, had the elections printer fulfilled its contract and had the government not held a referendum. 

Report author: Margaret Reed

Publication date: 06/08/2012

Date of decision: 11/07/2012

Decided at meeting: 11/07/2012 - Audit and Governance Committee

Accompanying Documents: