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Coronavirus Kent: Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone and PCC elections postponed until 2021

Local elections in Kent and across the country have been postponed for a year due to coronavirus fears.

Polls due to take place in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells will not go ahead on May 7.

Kent's Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott
Kent's Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott

The election for the Police and Crime Commissioner has also been postponed.

The news comes after the Electoral Commission wrote to ministers yesterday recommending they be put off.

The last time local elections were called off was when the outbreak of foot and mouth disease hit the UK.

The stance taken by the commission was supported by Liberal Democrat PCC candidate Graham Colley.

He said: "I think it is the right thing to do; everything is going to go slowly into lockdown; knocking on people's doors when they do not want to see you or engage will be even greater.

Elections have been delayed
Elections have been delayed

"This has happened before; it happened when there was the foot and mouth crisis. Given the extraordinary circumstances I don't think anyone would complain too much."

He added: "The number of people who might be at the count represents a potential risk of the infection spreading."

One of the nominations to be the Labour candidate, Barry Lewis - a Thanet county councillor - echoed: "It would be highly inappropriate to ask people who are self isolating to then come out and vote. Local authorities have more important things to be doing.

"Elections are about democracy - but how can I knock on people's doors and talk about them going out to vote when they have the virus?"

The Commission posted on Twitter: "We've written to the UK government to recommend that the May polls be postponed until the autumn as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"How can I knock on people's doors and talk about them going out to vote when they have the virus?..."

"This is due to growing risks to the delivery of the polls and to mitigate the impact on voters, campaigners and electoral administrators."

Matthew Scott, Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, tweeted: "A delay to elections is a sign of the extraordinary times we live in - it’s vital we keep the public safe and protect those who make our democracy function.

"I continue to liaise with Kent Police about the ongoing situation and will provide them with any support that I can.

"Massive thanks to my campaign team and all of those who have been out canvassing, leafleting and fundraising. I am truly grateful all for your support."

Two areas in Kent are having local council elections: Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, where a third of the wards are being contested.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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