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Suffolk's local elections in May could be delayed as Boris Johnson says polling day would be kept 'under review'




May's local elections in Suffolk could be delayed if coronavirus cases continue to surge as Boris Johnson said polling day would be kept 'under review'.

The prime minister told the House of Commons yesterday this year's local elections - which in Suffolk include votes for the county authority and the police and crime commissioner - were set out in law and added: "Though, obviously, we'll have to keep it under review".

But Suffolk County Council last night said it was still working on the basis voting will take place on May 6, as are all of the district and borough councils across the county who run the election.

Election day is to be kept 'under review'. Picture by Mark Westley.
Election day is to be kept 'under review'. Picture by Mark Westley.

The whole of the county will be casting votes in the May 2021 elections for Suffolk County Council and the police and crime commissioner, as well as polls for a third of Ipswich Borough Council and a handful of by-elections for district seats.

The police and crime commissioner vote and Ipswich authority elections were due to take place in 2020 but were pushed back a year because of the pandemic.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the authority had not made any representations to the government about putting off the elections.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, pictured in Downing Street earlier this week as he addressed the nation when he re-imposed an England-wide lockdown.
Boris Johnson, the prime minister, pictured in Downing Street earlier this week as he addressed the nation when he re-imposed an England-wide lockdown.

District councils across Suffolk said they were putting in arrangements to help people stay safe as they were voting in person, with measures like hand sanitiser, floor markings and face coverings in place to try and stop the spread.

But pressure is building on the government to delay the elections until June or July from local authorities across the country, with some elected officials urging a delay until autumn.

England's current national lockdown is expected to last until at least mid February, and there are concerns another stay at home demand could stop full campaigning taking place.

David Williams, chairman of the County Councils Network, urged the government to be prompt with a decision.

"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," he said.

"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."

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "We continue to work closely with the electoral community and public health bodies to resolve challenges and ensure everyone will be able to cast their vote safely and securely - and in a way of their choosing."

“Measures are planned to support absent voting at short notice. Guidance will be published in good time ahead of the polls and this matter will be kept under review."

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