Mick Styne is the Elections and Local Land Charges Manager at Derby City Council.
What is your job and what does it involve?
My job is Elections and Local Land Charges Manager. They are two very different functions. In my elections role I am responsible for managing the team that gets people registered during the year, and I also develop plans to deliver elections in each of the 17 wards of the city. This could be general, local, Parliamentary or Neighbourhood Planning, Business Improvement Districts, Police and Crime Commissioner elections and referendums such as the 2016 Brexit vote.
In my Local Land Charges Role me and my team liaise with solicitors and conveyancer’s and answer questions using local authority records, such as a planning or building control application history, information about the highway near to the property, listed buildings, health and housing issues which may affect the sale.
What does a typical day involve?
A typical day involves planning with the team what the priorities are for the day for each team for the week ahead, making sure that everyone that is eligible to vote can be registered such as overseas, anonymous electors, service voters especially where changes to addresses take place.
We deal with enquiries and process registration applications, requests for postal or proxy votes and changes of name on the register.
We meet to plan projects such as the forthcoming polling place review, where we will be looking at the suitability of current polling stations for future use.
We also review the list of properties and carry out an annual canvass where we send a letter to each property asking the householder to confirm who lives at and is eligible to vote from the property. Many people don’t tell us when they move so we do work to engage with those potential electors.
We are constantly reviewing technology to see if it can help us work smarter; recent developments have been the emailing of letters rather than posting out applications to save money. We use tablet technology to gather information for our annual electoral canvass rather than printing and posting paper forms.
We review data sets held by the Council to keep the register of electors as accurate as possible. There are many and varied customer enquiries.
There are lots of customer enquiries by telephone in both elections and Land Charges teams and we do see some customers face-to-face too.
How did you end up in your current role?
I started in the role of Elections and Land Charges Manager in 2007 after working in a different area of the Council managing teams providing financial and administrative support. I had, prior to getting this job, worked several times at a polling station and had worked as the person in charge there in local and national elections. My background in administration helped, but elections is a more customer orientated role and that where I wanted to develop my skills
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
At election or canvass time, helping someone vote that may not be able to get out of the house, and ensuring they can take part in the democratic process; we have had a few electors that are around 100 years old and we get satisfaction of being able to help them retain their independence by providing assistance to cast their vote.
Getting to the end of an election process and seeing the final results is also extremely rewarding. I work with an excellent team and they make my job easier as the team is experienced and has dealt with many types of election in the past.
What challenges do you and your team face?
A big challenge is reducing funding, but as I mentioned, changes in technology means we can streamline our processes, and are constantly reviewing our service to ensure we’re delivering value for money.
What motivates you?
A different challenge comes up each day, sometimes it isn’t always straightforward to resolve, but when you do resolve it, it is really rewarding.
How do you spend your free time outside of work?
I like to spend time with my family. I have two grandchildren which keep me busy! I like to go to the gym and also do some occasional running.
Make sure you know how to have your say in May!
Voters are being reminded to make sure they are ready to take part in the local elections on Thursday 3rd May.
Your poll card will tell you the location of your polling station, and you will find more information on how to take part on the Your Vote Matters website.
If you are registered, you do not need your poll card to vote, however, it is encouraged that voters bring it with them to make the process quicker and more efficient.
Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 3rd May. Voters who have opted to vote by post need to make sure their postal ballot pack is returned by 10pm and can hand it in at their polling station if they don’t have time to return it by post.