Local elections postponed until next year due to coronavirus

All local elections in England have been postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 4:39 pm
Updated Friday, 13th March 2020, 4:40 pm

The decision was made today by government after the Electoral Commission called for the May 7 elections to be pushed back until autumn.

Downing Street said it would be impractical to go ahead with the elections as planned, as they would come during the peak of the spread of the virus.

South Yorkshire was due to not only have the local elections but also the police and crime commissioner elections, and Sheffield was also due to have a referendum on how the city is run on the same day.

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May's local elections have been postponed until next year due to the coronavirus

Bob Poser, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, said in his guidance to government that his team consulted a number of stakeholders and it “had already become clear the risks are so significant as to raise serious concerns about the polls continuing to their current timetable”.

He added: “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.

“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.”

Woll Newall, of It's Our City who successfully campaigned for the referendum in Sheffield, said: "We are waiting for some more definitive information on how this affects the referendum.

"There are some very strict, complicated rules about when the referendum must take place (related to the date we submitted the petition), but it doesn't cover postponement due to a 'national emergency'.

"It's a pity, but needs must. We are prepared for an extended campaign.”

It is not yet known if council leader Julie Dore, who was due to step down in May, will continue in her role until the elections can be held.

There are currently six confirmed cases of coronavirus across South Yorkshire, with three in Sheffield, one in Rotherham and two in Barnsley. None have been confirmed in Doncaster yet.