The government has confirmed that local elections in England will go ahead in May as planned.

According to plans published by the Cabinet Office, polling stations will be fitted with screens and hand sanitiser. Voters will have to wear masks and will be encouraged to bring their own pen and pencil.

In Suffolk Coastal people will cast votes in the County Council elections, for Suffolk’s Polioce and Crime Commissioner (held over from May last year), and in a number of parish and town council by-elections.

The government is yet to announce how political parties will be able to campaign during the election period. Currently, campaigning may only take place online, by telephone, or leaflets sent by post or other commercial delivery services. Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister whose brief covers elections, said that if a reliance on paid postage services remained in place it must not benefit richer parties.

“If campaigning is limited to paid-for delivery of leaflets, we risk allowing those with the most money to have the greatest influence,” she said. “There must be a level playing field for all candidates and campaigners.”

While councils across England will be given an extra £31m in funding to help make the polls safe, Smith said local authorities still did not have the support they needed.

She said: “Councillors have expressed deep concerns about polling venues, with the government ruling out the use of schools. Ministers are yet to respond to the challenge of recruiting polling and count staff, with so many workers needed as Covid marshals and for additional cleaning.”

To ensure that you can vote as safely as possible, the Labour Party strongly urges you to apply for a postal vote.

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