Police and Crime Commissioner elections to go ahead in Wales
The Police and Crime Commissioner elections will go ahead in Wales, it has been confirmed.
Ministers had been considering delaying the elections, which have already been pushed back once, until the autumn, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK Government’s Cabinet Office has said they will still take place on May 6 in Wales, as well as in England. May’s local and mayoral elections in England are also scheduled to ahead.
The news has been welcomed by the leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies.
He said: “This is a welcome shot in the arm for democracy.
“Barring any dramatic change in circumstances, I have every confidence that election officials across Wales can also carry out a safe and secure election, learning from the vast number of elections that have taken place around the globe during the pandemic.
“The Welsh Labour Government now needs to focus their energy on ensuring the people of Wales are able to have their say on the future of our country on 6th May.”
The Welsh Government has said that its policy is for the Senedd election to take place on May 6 too as intended, if the public heath situation allows. It introduced an emergency bill to ensure it can happen safely.
But it also makes it possible to delay polling day should the pandemic present such a serious threat to public health and the conduct of the election, that it is not safe to hold the election at that time.
The Welsh Elections (Coronavirus) Bill introduces a range of measures to make it easier for those affected by the pandemic to vote.
It would also prevent an extended hiatus where the Senedd would not be able to meet to consider legislation related to the spread of the Coronavirus.
Electoral administrators have been asked to continue preparing for the election to take place on May 6.
Provisions in the Bill include:
- An ability for a voter to apply for an emergency proxy vote where, in the period ahead of the poll, a voter or their already nominated proxy becomes unable to participate in person on the day of the poll because of a reason relating to coronavirus, such as the need to self-isolate.
- Allowing the Senedd to keep sitting for up to seven calendar days before the election (instead of it being dissolved 21 working days before the election as is usually the case). This will allow the Welsh Government and Members of the Senedd to continue to deal with legislation related to the covid pandemic and enable a postponement of the election should that prove necessary during the final month before the poll is held.
- Allowing for the postponing of the Senedd election for up to 6 months, to a date no later than 5th November 2021, if this is needed due to public health reasons. The postponement and the fixing of a new date for the election would be proposed by the Presiding Officer and would require the agreement of two-thirds of Members.
The Bill will apply only to the 2021 Senedd ordinary general election and not to any subsequent Senedd elections.
The Bill also enables local government by-elections to be postponed beyond 6 May 2021 if required, to a date no later than 5 November 2021.