Doubt cast over upcoming county council elections

  Posted: 11.01.21 at 11:24 by Francesca Evans

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For a second year running, coronavirus looks likely to cause the postponement of scheduled local elections.

Last year elections across the country were cancelled and elected councillors whose time was due to run out were asked to stay on for another year.

Now, with a third national lockdown in force and the clocking ticking down towards 6 May when elections are due to take place again for Devon County Council, it is being suggested nationally there is another delay to ensure the poll can take place safely. Devon is also due to go to the polls to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner.

Last week the government began contacting  local councils to seek views on what should be done. In hundreds of elections scheduled across the country more than 40 million people will be entitled to vote.

What appears to be the most likely scenario is that the elections will be put back to the autumn, with October appearing to be a preferred scenario in the regions – though word is that Downing Street would prefer to see the elections put back just one month.

It’s not just the issues of voting on one day and the subsequent count that causes concern, elections are likely to bring about significant door-to-door canvassing which health expects fear would create another spike in COVID-19 transmission.

The search for answers from across the country is being driven from Whitehall where a spokesperson said: “Local government leaders have had a suggestion from government that the elections are moved to June or July, but many think that’s too soon to ensure polling booths are safe so have mooted the idea of September. Holding the elections with postal votes only has been ruled out.”

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