Martin Ford 12 March 2020

Electoral Commission calls for autumn polls

May’s local elections should be postponed until the autumn, the Electoral Commission has said.

The coronavirus pandemic has raised questions over whether the election should go ahead.

Commission chief executive Bob Posner has written to the Government arguing that a decision must be made now as preparations are underway for the election of mayors, councillors and police and crime commissioners.

He wrote: ‘The risks to delivery that have been identified are such that we cannot be confident that voters will be able to participate in the polls safely and confidently nor that campaigners and parties will be able to put their case to the electorate.

'On the available information and position we recommend the Government now delay the May 7 polls until the autumn.'

The call has been backed by the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) and shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne.

Mr Posner’s fears were also echoed at a meeting of council leaders at the Local Government Association (LGA) this afternoon.

However, the chief executive of Public Health England, Duncan Selbie, told the meeting it was ‘too early’ to postpone the elections and it was a ‘political and science-based decision’ that had to be taken by the Government.

Visit The MJ (£) for more on this story.

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