Two Sheffield elections and a referendum could be postponed because of the coronavirus

Sheffield could have two elections and a referendum, which are due to take place in May, postponed because of the coronavirus.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 11:52 am
Updated Friday, 13th March 2020, 11:53 am

Sheffield is due to have its local elections, police and crime commissioner elections and a referendum on how the city is run all on the same day, May 7.

But these could all be pushed back until autumn if the government takes the advice of Bob Poser, chief executive of the Electoral Commission who sent a letter to MP Chloe Smith, minister for constitution and devolution, this week.

In his letter, he said his team consulted a number of stakeholders and that it “has already become clear the risks are so significant as to raise serious concerns about the polls continuing to their current timetable”.

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Two elections and a referendum which are due to be held in May could be postponed because of the coronavirus. Picture: Chris Etchells

He said a decision needs to be made now: “Clearly any decisions to delay elections which are due is significant and would not normally be desirable; however, we are in unprecedented times.

“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.

“We therefore call on the Government to take steps to provide early clarity to all those with an interest in the electoral process; and on the available information and position we recommend the Government now delay the 7 May polls until the autumn.

“In this context we are also mindful that the chief executives of local authorities and their staff across the country are necessarily focussed on the ongoing management of the impacts Covid-19 is having on their localities.”

The spread of the coronavirus could lead to May's elections and referendum being cancelled

It has not yet been confirmed if the elections will go ahead.

Sheffield currently has three confirmed cases of coronavirus at the time of writing, and there are three others across South Yorkshire with two in Barnsley and one in Rotherham.

It is not yet known whether the postponement of the elections would also delay Ms Dore’s departure.