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May Election will be a Covid 'Superspreader' Event

January 25, 2021 6:15 PM

Open letter from Shropshire Councillors to the Government

We are writing this with an ever increasing sense of incredulity that Boris Johnson and his Conservative Government remain on course for a Covid 'Superspreader' Event on a massive scale if the Countrywide Elections, the biggest set of local & national elections for many years, including County Council, District Council, Unitary Authority, Police & Crime commissioner, mayoral & London Assembly elections, plus elections in Scotland & Wales, take place as planned in May!

It's been clear for some weeks that, whilst our vacination programme has been rolling out with some success in parts of the Country, that's not been happening here in Shropshire, where we lag behind every other part of the Country in vaccinations. In England we remain in the 3rd lockdown & whilst Covid infection rates are beginning to come down, death rates remain at over 1,000 per day, many hospitals are near breaking point and we are already dealing with new variants of the virus, which Boris Johnson himself has warned us might be 30% more deadly, & on top of that he tells us the Government has even more concerns about the South African & Brazillian variants of the virus!

This weekend the Local government Information Unit (LGIU), backed by the vast majority of senior Council Officials, warned about the severe concerns they have about holding such elections in May, including the ability of Councils to recruit & train electoral workers, with fewer volunteers willing to put themselves at risk likely & real difficulties in finding polling and count venues, with schools being used as polling venues proving contentious & the prospect of counting the votes in halls containing hundreds of counting staff & candidates etc - not to mention the risk of disenfranchising voters worried about the risk of catching Covid 19. The Chief Executive of the LGIU, Jonathan Carr-West said: "Local government is committed to democracy, but the overwhelming view from Councils is that it is no longer possible to hold safe and open elections in May. The logistical challenges are formidable and there's a real risk that we effectively disenfranchise millions of people who do not feel safe going to the polls".Council's like Shropshire are currently having to spend significant sums trying to prepare for elections in May they know should be postponed, whilst all the Government will say is that they are keeping the decision wheter to go ahead or not "under review"!

Eager as we are to remove the inept Tory administration in Shropshire we must put peoples lives first! - To hold such elections in May will inevitably lead to far greater spread of the virus which, as night follows day, will lead to greater hospital admissions & sadly more deaths! - We can avoid this if the Government acts now & postpones the election at least until the Autumn to allow our vaccinnation rollout to really have an effect! - If not Boris & his Tory Government will have blood on it's hands!

Cllr Nigel Hartin Shropshire Councillor Clun Division

Cllr Heather Kidd Chirbury and Worthen Division

Cllr Ruth Houghton Bishop's Castle Division .