At today’s meeting of The Highland Council (Friday 10 December) members agreed the resources required to run the Highland Council Local Government Elections which will take place on Thursday 5 May 2022 and were advised that preparations were already underway to ensure its successful delivery.
The total cost of running the 2022 Council election is estimated to be £550,000.
This is based on all ordinary expenses to run the election but excludes any potential Covid costs.
For this election, the Scottish Government has put a National Framework Agreement in place to deliver the printing of the ballots and the electronic counting of the votes.
As the Local Government Boundary proposal for Highland was rejected by Parliament on 7 October 2021, the current Council membership and ward boundaries with its 74 members elected across 21 wards and respective 3 or 4 members remains in place and unchanged.
The Council’s current Polling Scheme which lists the venues used for poll will be used.
However, to minimise disruption to schools and pupils, and as previously agreed an in-service day for all Highland schools is in place on 5 May 2022 and because of the exam period, no secondary schools will be used as polling stations.
The Council’s Election team will continue to work closely with the Electoral Management Board, the Scottish Government and The Electoral Commission to ensure compliance with all directions before, during and after the election.
The Returning Officer, Chief Executive Donna Manson who has overall responsibility for the election said:
“It is a huge undertaking to deliver the election and involves all Council services in one way or another, as well as our dedicated small elections team, other staff from across our services will be assisting in the lead up to next May.
“As an inclusive Council we need people from all backgrounds and experiences who reflect the communities they live in to put themselves forward for the election.
“To encourage candidates to stand and answer any queries, our Elections Team will be holding road shows within the wards and work is already underway to make an in-house video is reflect what the job entails to be a councillor in the Highlands.
“Also, prior to the start of the nomination period, we’ll hold an on-line information session about the nomination process to assist prospective candidates.”
Voters will go to the poll on Thursday 5 May and the count will take place electronically in Inverness Leisure Centre on Friday 6 May.
Since beginning of 2021 and at the recent Fort William and Ardnamurchan by-election, the Council’s Corporate Communications team has introduced live streaming for Elections and increased the social media footprint through various channels including TikTok to encourage over 16 year olds to vote.
This innovation, which enhances and increases the overall transparency of the election processes, has been recognised nationally and the team will continue to develop this area for the upcoming May election.
As part of the discussions today Councillors also agreed that the Returning Officer continues to be entitled to make amendments to polling places of the Council approved Polling Scheme of 2019, outside the compulsory review period.
Approval was also given to budget for the local government elections in 2027 on an annual recurring basis and to hold this in earmarked reserves, as has been the case in previous years.