Annual Elections Conference 2017


19 Jan 2017


Grant Thornton
30 Finsbury Square



This event was hosted by

Grant Thornton Logo


Annual Elections Conference - Thursday 19 January 2017

Chief Executives and Returning Officers are personally responsible for the smooth running and delivery of elections putting their own individual reputations on the line. It is crucial that they keep up-to-date with legislative changes and share best practice to deliver a secure, accurate and efficient democratic process.

The Solace Annual Election Conference will ensure you keep your skills and knowledge of this challenging technical area up to the pace of change.

The electoral community has experienced growing pressures in the last few years. The scale of challenges posed by the increasing number and range of elections and reform of the registration system are set to continue. External scrutiny of the system is intensifying

The Conference will bring you up-to-date with recent legislative changes and will feature case studies which focus on the key issues faced by all Returning Officers, setting out the things you need to know to keep your election service safe from challenge.

Annual Elections Conference 19 January Presentations

Please click on the links to download the presentations:

Chris Skidmore MP

Solace Elections Conference Presentation Mark Heath 2017

Tim Straker QC

Case Study Registration Process Janie Berry

Case Study - Paperwork

Case Study - Paperwork Answers

Case Study - Social media and count

Case Study - Social media and count Answers

Annual Elections Conference 19 January Programme

(subject to change)


Arrival, Registration and Refreshments for the early session


Session for NEW Returning Officers and those who would like a refresh
10 things you NEED to know as a Returning Officer
Speaker: Mark Heath, Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer, Southampton City Council


Arrival, Registration and Refreshments for main conference


Welcome to the conference
Chair: Jo Miller, Chief Executive, Doncaster Council and President of Solace


Keynote session: Ministerial address
Chris Skidmore MP
, Minister for the Constitution


Election Law – update on Key issues
Speaker: Tim Straker QC 4-5 Grays Inn Square




Scene setting for the interactive workshops/case studies
Delegates are divided into four separate sessions and will examine in detail a case study to analyse what went well and not so well and look at the practical learning from this 

Case studies: Interactive workshops
Each case study is based on real-life examples that have occurred and where we can learn from what has worked well and not so well - sometimes with far-reaching consequences. By working through these case studies, delegates can use the examples to increase their knowledge and skills as returning officers
Case study: Registration process
Case study: Producing papers
Case study: Counting process/system
Case study: Managing relationships with politicians, candidates, agents plus social media


Case Study Analyses and Discussion
Groups to share their learning from the case studies


Questions to Panel of Experts
Our panel of experts will invite you to bring to the table the issues you are struggling with and the expert panel at the end of the day will be able to answer your questions about how to tackle them.
Tim Straker QC
Dr Dave Smith
Janie Berry
, Returning Officer, Derby City Council
Mark Heath
, Returning Officer and Electoral Registration Officer, Southampton City Council 
Paul Docker, Cabinet Office
Chair – Jo Miller
, Chief Executive, Doncaster Council and President of Solace


Chair’s Summary and close


£345.00+vat - Solace member Delegate registering for the Elections Conference 19 January ONLY

*OFFER:  £567.00+vat** – Solace Member Delegate registering and paying for BOTH the Elections Conference 19 January and the Managing the Elections Process Workshop 2 February 2017 (details below)

£445.00+vat – Non Member Public Sector Delegate registering for the Elections Conference 19 January ONLY

*OFFER: £702+vat** - Non Member Public Sector Delegate registering and paying for BOTH the Elections Conference 19 January and the Managing the Elections Process Workshop 2 February 2017

*OFFER: Bookings received for the Elections Conference January, and paid prior to 9 December will receive a free copy of the Running Elections 2013 Book

Private Sector: Unfortunately private sector delegates are not able to purchase delegate places for this event unless a sponsorship or exhibition package is purchased. Please contact Sonia Rheinlander for further information via

To register your place these events please download the Registration Form which includes the Terms and Conditions of Registration here, and email the completed form to

- If places for the Conference are booked and paid before Friday 9th December you will receive a FREE copy of the Running Elections 2013 book
- If places are booked and paid for at the same time, to attend both the conference and workshop, a discount of 10% will be applied – to book both events together, please download and complete the registration form using the link above and email to

** Discount already applied on prices listed above.


For those involved in running elections, whether very experienced or new to the role, the task can be daunting and even stressful. It is one of the few local government activities run entirely by the staff, not the Council, and one where the Returning Officer carries personal responsibility.

Although SOLACE is again running the Annual Elections Conference in January 2017 on new developments and challenges, those events will assume a reasonable degree of knowledge of electoral law and practice, and is complementary to, but not a substitute for, the Returning Officer core training. Core training for Returning officers is the responsibility of local authorities and the Returning Officers themselves, and this course provides one of the few opportunities to address the subject with experienced colleagues.

Running an election is an area where there is not only legal responsibility but also a requirement to project an efficient organisation. It is one of those occasions when anything that goes wrong is immediately in the public spotlight. Furthermore, it is a time when you are entirely reliant on the professionalism, commitment and enthusiasm of a large number of people who may not normally be employed by the local authority, and with whom you may have had little or no personal contact.

Elections are also high profile events closely scrutinised by politicians and the media. Recent legislation and the expectations of national and local Government, the Electoral Commission and of course the public have all placed a new emphasis on the conduct, administration and turnouts of elections. Bluntly, they are occasions where you are expected to know the answers and deal with any crises which might arise – and to know how and when to support your elections staff.

Apart from these courses, there are few opportunities to acquire and refresh practical advice and assistance. We hope that you find these timely one-day workshops both enjoyable and of great value to you as you assume your election responsibilities. It provides a unique opportunity to have your questions answered, acquire practical hints and tips, and be brought up to date about experiments in election administration, and the election administration changes of the modernising agenda.

Workshop Fees
- Member Rate - £285
- Non Member Rate - £335

To book a place on the workshop alone - please click here