Cambridge City Council is a district council based in the county of Cambridgeshire, which governs the City of Cambridge.
The electoral department at the council send thousands of communications every year, in a bulk and/or individual format, to increase residents’ engagement and knowledge in regards to all election types. A part of this process is communicating with one of the largest UK student populations, that changes yearly.
Cambridge City Council electoral department not only send out bulk annual electoral communications, their requirement also consists of every day communication touch points to their residents.
The communication varies in style and format, as well as the their dispatch and delivery requirements. This became challenging and the council required an alternative way of managing this process to ensure that deadlines were met, whilst being secure, cost effective and fully supported.
The electoral department was responsible for sourcing procurement services to manage their communications and this is where the PRINT.UK.COM (PUK) – Cambridge partnership began.
Cambridge City Council partnered with PUK in 2009 to send and manage their bulk annual electoral campaigns and became one of the first councils to adopt their hybrid mail communication tool, Docmail, in 2014.
PUK provide Cambridge with a managed service solution whereby electoral documents including poll cards, ballot papers and postal packs are created, proofed and dispatched within a secure facility.
PUK and Cambridge City council work together to scope out the electoral requirements on an annual basis through a range of face to face and online discussions. Planning tools are set up and provided by PUK as well as ongoing catch-up calls that help ensure everything is kept on track.
During the critical election process poll cards are the first items to be produced and despatched. The poll cards are produced throughout the run up to the election, to ensure that the appropriate checks and any required amendments are made. The poll cards are posted from PUK’s secure production facility directly to Cambridge City Council and to the end recipient.
After the close of nominations, together Cambridge City Council and PUK live-proof the ballot papers. Once all approved, the ballot papers are printed and made into ballot books. The first batches of ballot papers produced are for postal packs, ensuring the earliest possible distribution, which allows overseas voters to complete and return their vote in time.
The personal data of those registered for a postal pack is then searched and securely extracted from the Electoral Management System. PUK then follow a stringent process of proofing, approval, printing and personalising of each postal pack with the relevant information for each voter, so that the documents are personalised and directed to one individual.
The packs are then enclosed with the relevant ballot paper or papers and any supporting documentation such as instructions, with a small barcode being printed on each document for enclosing and tracking purposes. The barcode is for PUKs reference only, to ensure that documents are enclosed accurately and for the same individual, providing an error free solution to sending the electoral documentation.
The packs are sealed and prepared in polling district order; this helps the Council when their staff come to visit our production facility. A manual check for final quality, security and approval is undertaken by Council staff and once approved the documents are issued directly to Royal Mail to be sent via their 1st class delivery service.
The whole process is secure and is supported by a dedicated account manager and also our Electoral Senior Business Development Manager, Nicki Newburn, who oversees the whole process to ensure that no mistakes are made, issues are resolved and there is a direct point of contact bringing together the two organisations.
In addition, PUK’s hybrid mail solution Docmail, provides Cambridge with an online, instant method of sending ITR (invitation to register) and rolling registration documentation, straight to their residents. The click of a button hybrid service, is a convenient and easy to use service, individual residents can be sent letters directly from council software. The system prints both A4 letters and A3 folded sheets, which is unique in the hybrid mail market and ideal for ITR and rolling registration.
Utilising both the managed service and hybrid mail offering is an important part of Cambridge City Councils and PUKs relationship, due to the diverse work that they complete and the varying requirements that come with this.
By working with a trusted communications partner for over 10 years, Cambridge City Council have developed a strong relationship with PUK where there is mutual understanding that allows the two organisations to work together to develop a strong communication process that covers all electoral documentation. This also enables Cambridge City to organise their communications in a time efficient, easy to manage way that is fully supported by PUK throughout every process.
The managed service solution is supported by a dedicated account manager, who is on hand to handle all communications and answer any questions. Whereas the hybrid mail service is completely flexible and self-managed by the council, perfect for sending communications in an ad-hoc manner, both when working remotely or in the office.
The solutions offer a hassle-free alternative to communicating and allows Cambridge City Council to target residents with the relevant information, helping raise engagement and participation in all electoral activities that the council runs.
This relationship helps deadlines to be met, issues to be resolved and communications to be printed and dispatched error free, at the right time.
We have worked with PRINT.UK.COM for all of our electoral print, both elections and rolling registration, for a number of years and find them to be professional, helpful and friendly. Their quality products, reliable delivery and sound electoral knowledge are important to us as customers. We also use Docmail for our day-to-day print needs, which saves us a huge amount of office time and has meant that throughout the periods we were required to work from home our posted communication with electors was not disrupted, which was invaluable.
Electoral Services Manager
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