England’s biggest councils are calling for clarity on whether local elections will go ahead as planned this year.
Last year, local elections were postponed until 2021, with the hope that the pandemic would have been helped to the extent that they could go ahead, but with the country in a very similar position as it was last year, local elections may be postponed again.
Councils across the country are calling for a clear message of whether they will go ahead or whether the elections, which 19 million people are eligible to vote in, will be postponed.
If they are to go ahead, it is assumed that new venues may have to be selected to cater for social distancing.
Chairman of the County Councils Network, Cllr David Williams, said:
“The elections in county areas this Spring are the single biggest type of council elections scheduled to take place this year: with up to 19 million people potentially eligible to vote in 32 different areas. These are substantive logistical undertakings at any time for unitary, county and district councils, but the pandemic creates significant challenges to ensure votes can be cast safely.
“Councils have already spent months planning for the elections in May, and will continue to do so right up until polling day despite the recent rise in cases undoubtedly intensifying these challenges. Continuing speculation about the elections being deferred is unhelpful so we need urgent clarity and a swift decision from the government as soon as possible on whether these elections take place as scheduled.
“If we are left until March or later for a decision to be made, there is a risk that months of hard work from councils would be at risk – and at a time when much of the local effort is on suppressing the virus and keeping day-to-day services running.”