May local elections could be put on hold because of coronavirus

May local elections could be put on hold because of coronavirus with 40million voters forced to wait until as late as autumn to cast ballots

  • Cabinet office is working on plans to hold votes in June, July or September 
  • Conservative candidates have requested that polls be held in October 
  • This year’s polls will include those which were postponed last year  

Local elections due to go ahead in May could now be pushed back to autumn because of the coronavirus. 

The elections, initially planned for May 6, were discussed by mayors last week after they were approached by civil servants about safeguarding issues. 

Almost 40million people are entitled to vote in the upcoming elections – which No10 hope will only be pushed back by one month. 

The elections will include those that were postponed last year because of the pandemic.  

Local elections due to go ahead in May could now be pushed back to autumn because of the coronavirus

The elections, initially planned for May 6, were discussed by mayors last week after they were approached by civil servants about safeguarding issues

The cabinet office is now working on different plans to hold the votes either in June, July or September. 

Conservative candidates have requested polls be held in October if they are delayed until past July because they fear it will be hard to find activists willing to go door to door in August. 

Tory party co-chairwoman, Amanda Milling, signalled last week that a delay is very likely.  

Scotland has already introduced a law to make it possible to delay assembly elections and Wales is planning on doing something similar.   

Tory party co-chairwoman, Amanda Milling (pictured), signalled last week that a delay is very likely

A senior Whitehall source told The Sunday Times: ‘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.’

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham was consulted on the delays and he reportedly believes that a postponement is inevitable.  

Concerns over social-distancing at polling stations have been raised and politicians fear door-to-door campaigning may not go ahead due to potential spread of the virus. 

This years polls, the biggest for years, will see seats free in more than 140 councils – including 118 that should have been voted on last year. 

Some 13 mayoral contests are also due to take place including in Greater Manchester and London.   

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