Local elections should go ahead in May, Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery says

The leader of Wakefield Council has said that the local elections should go ahead in early May as scheduled.

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 5:36 pm

A total of 22 council seats are due to be contested in the district this year, with voters scheduled to go to the polls on May 6.

The elections across the UK were called off last year after the first lockdown was introduced, and there has been speculation that the pandemic may force another postponement this year.

If they do go ahead as planned, political campaigning, voting and vote-counting are all likely to be affected by social distancing.

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The polls are due to take place across the country on May 6.

Wakefield Council says it will cost around £300,000 extra to meet such requirements.

But the local authority's leader Denise Jeffery said she wanted the elections to take place in May.

Speaking on Wednesday she said: "I hope they will (go ahead).

"We delayed it last year and we managed, but I think we need to find a way forward now.

Coun Jeffery said holding the elections would not be easy, but believes they should not be delayed any longer.

"It's not going to be easy, but I wouldn't like to see it delayed. I'd like us to get back to normal politics if we can."

Should the polls go ahead, West Yorkshire will also vote for its first ever regional mayor in May, besides electing local councillors.

Coun Jeffery suggested that vote counting in Wakefield may take place over three days this year, to adhere to Covid-enforced rules.

Under normal circumstances, counting starts in Thornes Park Athletics Stadium as soon as the polls close at 10pm and lasts a matter of hours.

The council's chief executive Andrew Balchin said: "Even with the vaccine, it's likely we'll still be required to socially distance (in May).

"We need to make sure we have venues that will enable people to vote as quickly and as safely as they can.

"There's likely to be some limits on the way normal campaigning can take place.

"There's a whole host of issues, but I think the government is aware of some of the challenges that we've got."

Local Democracy Reporting Service