England & Wales Press Releases

LGIU Statement: Our response to the May 2021 polls delivery plan


Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGIU said:

“Following today’s announcement from the Cabinet Office that local elections will go ahead as planned on 6 May 2021, we are pleased to hear that a decision has finally been made by the Government. Clarity is the most important thing and the sector has been begging for this.

While local government has serious concerns about taking these elections forward (as highlighted in our Fair, Safe and Free report published last week), when they are set a challenge, they rise to the occasion. This is something we have seen from local government time and time again, up and down the country, and this will be no different.

It is good that the Government has listened to some of the concerns from the sector and made extra funding available for these elections. However, we need to look at other measures such as PPE supplies and vaccinating poll workers to ensure their safety.

It is good that the Government is allowing emergency proxies and changing the rules around nominations (though still no detail) but the campaign around postal votes needs to start today.

And, some key logistical problems still remain – all the money in the world can’t conjure up venues that aren’t there or staff that don’t exist.

Maybe it would have been better to listen to the sector’s view in the first place and postpone these elections but the most important thing is clarity and at least we have that now.”


Notes to editors

About Fair, Safe and Free

Fair, Safe and Free, published on 24 January, revealed that the majority of council officials were overwhelmingly concerned about their ability to hold local elections in May with more than two thirds (69%) suggesting an autumn timetable is more achievable.

The survey of 353 Chief Executives (who are often returning officers), Democratic Services Officers and Council Leaders was the most comprehensive survey of council officials across England on the 2021 Local Elections. It found that their greatest concerns were around preparing for May elections that would only later be postponed, their ability to recruit and train electoral workers and their ability to prepare under current conditions.

A full copy of the report is available here.


About LGIU

The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) is a think tank and membership body with over 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visit www.lgiu.org.