Local elections in May postponed for a year over coronavirus

Mayoral and local elections in England are to be postponed for a year in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Sources say it is because the elections would fall at the peak of the outbreak – potentially exposing people to the virus at the most dangerous point.

It means that local elections across the country are off for twelve months.

As are contests for several big mayoral races – including in London where Sadiq Khan is up for re-election.

Voters had been due to cast their ballots on 7 May.

They will not take place in May 2021.

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A government spokeswoman said: "We will bring forward legislation to postpone local, mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections until May next year.

"We will also work with the devolved administrations to ensure that they have the necessary powers to do the same."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: "The Government has taken the decision to postpone the May elections for a year.

"I will continue to work with the Government and experts to help London manage coronavirus over the weeks and months ahead.

"I will always do everything in my power to stand up for London."

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Independent candidate for London Mayor Rory Stewart said it was the "right decision".

He added: "We should now move more rapidly to close gatherings, and schools; extend the isolation period; and restrict non-essential visits to care homes (who have few back up options for patients if they have to close.)"

It comes after the Electoral Commission said on Thursday the polls should be delayed until the autumn to "mitigate" the impact of the virus.

Electoral Commission chief executive Bob Posner welcomed the move.

He said: “We welcome and support the UK Government’s decision to postpone the May elections. This will allow local authorities to focus their efforts on delivering front line public services and importantly, mitigates risks to voters and campaigners. We will work with the wider electoral community to ensure elections in 2021, including these postponed elections, are well run, command public trust and attract high levels of participation.”

Just hours before the decision was made the government said that there was no planned change.

The PM’s spokesman said: “We are working to facilitate the local, mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections on May 7.

“We continue to work closely with those delivering the elections while being guided by the evidence and latest advice from the medical experts."

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