Local elections play a crucial role in our nation’s democracy. This year’s will see everyone in England having a ballot of some kind, with many places having multiple ballots taking place at once – this is unprecedented. Councils have been working hard to put preparations in place to deliver these with their usual efficiency.
Responding to the Government announcement that the local elections will take place on May 6, Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
“Local elections play a crucial role in our nation’s democracy. This year’s will see everyone in England having a ballot of some kind, with many places having multiple ballots taking place at once – this is unprecedented. Councils have been working hard to put preparations in place to deliver these with their usual efficiency.
“It is good that the Government has set out this action plan to help guide local planning for these elections. We are pleased the Government will provide some extra funding to councils to ensure COVID-19 secure measures can be implemented for voters, council election teams and the army of volunteers in polling stations and count venues.
“The scale and cost of these vital extra measures to ensure everyone’s safe involvement in the elections and the counting of votes are now being assessed by councils. The level of extra government financial support will need to be kept under review as the real-world costs and implications are calculated.
“Councillors make a huge difference to the quality of life of local people and how local issues are dealt with. It is vital that candidates have the ability to run campaigns so residents can make informed decisions about who they want to represent them. We look forward to seeing further details from government on this. We also want to explore with the Government how all candidates can best set out their case for election to voters as national restrictions are lifted.”
Notes to editors
The LGA, which represents councils across England and Wales, is also calling for the Government to:
- Ensure there is clear specific public health guidance for elections to guide decision-making and support officers to make decisions in this difficult context, for example by providing indemnity for returning officers.
- Core election staff to be added to the priority list for the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and extend testing to core electoral staff in the run up to the elections.
- Recognise that the counting of votes will take considerably longer than normal and clarify how counting agents will be able to undertake their duties in a safe way given social distancing rules. Relaxing the deadline for newly elected councillors to take up office to allow the count to be conducted safely. Clarity is also needed on the use of schools as polling stations.
- We have produced a short guide on the publicity restrictions that should be observed by local authorities during the pre-election period.