Covid-19: Greater Manchester elections 'likely to be delayed'

By Kevin Fitzpatrick
Political reporter, BBC Manchester

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Elections scheduled for May 2020 were postponed because of Covid-19

Greater Manchester's mayoral and council elections are likely to be postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the BBC has been told.

The region's 10 council leaders were told at a meeting on Tuesday that the government expects to delay the 6 May elections until the summer.

The region's leaders believe it would be more realistic to hold the polls in the autumn.

The government said the matter was being kept "under review".

In May 2020, local and mayoral polls were postponed during the first wave of the pandemic and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and hundreds of councillors were asked to remain in post for another year.

With Covid-19 spreading rapidly, and the whole of England now being under lockdown, the BBC has been told that the government now accepts it is highly unlikely that polling stations can open on 6 May.

'Safely and securely'

Voting is scheduled at local councils across England and for thirteen directly elected mayors and 40 police and crime commissioners in England and Wales.

Holding the elections with postal votes only has already been ruled out.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "We continue to work closely with the electoral community and public health bodies to resolve challenges and ensure everyone will be able to cast their vote safely and securely - and in a way of their choosing.

"Measures are planned to support absent voting at short notice. Guidance will be published in good time ahead of the polls and this matter will be kept under review."

A spokesperson for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Returning Officer said: "Greater Manchester Combined Authority and local government partners are engaging with Government to discuss the delivery of May's elections. We are awaiting further guidance from Government."

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