The Cabinet Office has issued this guidance to electoral administrators about forthcoming elections. Parish councils will be informed by their Electoral Administrators in principal councils, of the exact local situation. The latest guidance about forthcoming elections that may have been due to take place before legislation postponing them will come into force is as follows:-
- The Government will give its full support to Returning Officers who make the decision to suspend their polls. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have provided assurance that criminal prosecution in these circumstances is highly unlikely.
- The Government will shortly be bringing forward measures within the Covid-19 Bill to postpone the scheduled local and mayoral elections due to take place in England and the scheduled Police and Crime Commissioner elections due to take place in England and Wales on 7 May this year until the next ordinary day of election on 6 May 2021.
- However, it is recognised that there will be a small number of polls between now and the date of Royal Assent which will not be covered by these provisions.
- The delivery of polls rightly sits with Returning Officers who are statutorily independent and responsible to the Courts.
- Running a poll in present times is likely to come with significant concerns about the well-being of those involved, which may be thought to be unfair to both staff and the public.
- It would be both reasonable and consistent with the national position for a Returning Officer to suspend any poll scheduled within this period, including those due to take place in the next few days.
- The hard work of Returning Officers is appreciated during these difficult and challenging circumstances.
The Cabinet Office is responsible for the implementation of this legislation and as further information becomes available we will keep you informed.