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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Local elections postponed in three English counties

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Council elections in three English counties have been postponed because those authorities could be abolished.

Plans have been submitted to create unitary authorities in place of existing councils in Cumbria, Somerset and North Yorkshire.

The government said delaying elections, due to be held on 6 May, until May 2022 would avoid “confusing” voters.

Elections for Police and Crime Commissioners and those for town and parish councils will still take place.

Cumbria, Somerset and North Yorkshire are currently each run by a county council along with a number of district councils.

However, the government has asked the councils in each area to submit proposals examining how they could switch to becoming unitary authorities instead.

A total of eight proposals were submitted in December – four from the county council and district councils in Cumbria, and two each from the county council and district councils in North Yorkshire and Somerset.

All three county councils are proposing the creation of single unitary authorities, while the district councils suggest the creation of two new unitary councils for each area.

Somerset County Council (left), Cumbria County Council (right)

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Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said while those plans were being examined, delaying the elections would be sensible.

“Elections in such circumstances risk confusing voters and would be hard to justify where members could be elected to serve shortened terms,” he explained.

A public consultation on the plans will end on 19 April.

No date has been given for a decision on which, if any, of the proposals will be implemented.

However, Mr Jenrick said he would base his decision on three criteria – whether they would improve local services, if they commanded strong support locally and if the area of any new authority made geographical sense.

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