A polling station in Whitley is set to be changed ahead of May’s local elections as the usual building is not currently available.

Geoffrey Field Junior School will become the new designated polling place for Whitley ward (polling district SA) in place of Geoffrey Field Infants School, if the plans are approved.

The local council elections in May this year will include a third of councillors in Reading plus a Police and Crime Commissioner election for Thames Valley.

READ MORE: Reading elections 2021: Councillors to stand for just one year ahead of boundary map changes in 2022

The planned change to the polling station will be voted on at Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Full Councill meeting on Tuesday, February 23.

In the report, the council’s returning officer Chris Brooks said: “The polling place for Whitley ward district SA is the Geoffrey Field Infants School, which is not available as a polling station.

“I have arranged to move the polling station to the adjacent Geoffrey Field Junior school, which is located on Exbourne Road, Whitley, Reading.”

The council says its policy on polling stations aims to encourage electors to exercise their right to vote by being able to easily find and gain access to polling places.

This year’s elections

191293 Reading general election count pic chris forsey 12/12/19.

191293 Reading general election count pic chris forsey 12/12/19.

Reading councillors could be elected for just one year at this year’s elections, as coronavirus delays and boundary changes affect the normal four-year term.

The council will hold one-thirds elections this year, with 16 of RBC’s 46 councillors standing for election.

This year was due to be a fallow year with no local election but, because the 2020 elections were cancelled due to the Covid pandemic, Reading’s elections are now taking place in 2021, with 2020 effectively the fallow year.

Normally councillors are voted in for four years in Reading, but new boundary changes coming in from 2022 mean Reading Borough will have a completely new map of wards and two extra councillors.

READ MORE: Final Reading election ward boundary changes confirmed, including two extra councillors

Therefore, the 2021 elections will be followed by all-out elections in 2022, with 48 positions up for grabs in 16 wards.

This will then be followed by a return to one-thirds elections, with one councillor from each ward who got the least votes standing for election in 2023.

This means a councillor standing in 2021 could potentially end up standing for election for three years in a row.

How will elections during the pandemic work?

Polling station

Polling station

Votes will have a choice between in person and absent voting.

Postal and proxy voting will be supported, and proxy voting rules changed so that those affected by COVID-19 in the days before the poll can still vote.

If you choose to vote in person, this is what to expect in polling stations during the elections this year:

  • Social distancing (inside and outside venues)
  • Limited number of people inside polling stations
  • Masks worn by staff and voters
  • Voters bring their own pen or pencil
  • Maximum ventilation
  • Plastic screens (where appropriate)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Regular cleaning

Anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus, or is displaying symptoms, should self-isolate and take advantage of an emergency proxy vote.

Leafleting and door-knocking by party activists is not permissible under current lockdown rules but this may change as restrictions are lifted.