WARRINGTON’S all-out elections are still planned to go ahead this year – with efforts in place to ensure residents can cast votes safely and securely.

Voters are due to go to the polls on May 6 where every seat in the town will be up for grabs.

They were scheduled to take place last year before being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cabinet Office, a Government department, says primary legislation states that the elections will go ahead in May 2021.

A spokesperson added: “We continue to work closely with the electoral community and public health bodies to resolve challenges and ensure everyone will be able to cast their vote safely and securely – and in a way of their choosing.

“Measures are planned to support absent voting at short notice. Guidance will be published in good time ahead of the polls and this matter will be kept under review.”

Conservative Warrington South MP Andy Carter has issued a statement on the matter.

He said: “As legislation is currently set, it provides that the elections will go ahead in May 2021.

“It’s essential that we still allow democratic processes and elections to take place, particularly when many decisions are being made locally about how we navigate from this pandemic and spend public money.

“The Government is working closely with electoral departments and public health bodies to resolve challenges and ensure everyone will be able to cast their vote safely and securely – and in a way of their choosing. Any resident will be able to register to vote by post on demand, should they wish to.

“The situation will however remain under review and hopefully by May we will be in a better position with controlling the virus in Warrington and the majority of people will have been vaccinated.”

Labour Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols MP says to delay elections again would be a real shame for democracy and ‘diminish the power’ of local people who deserve to have their say.

She said: “In spite of these difficult times, countries across the world have held elections and allowed their democratic processes to continue.

“If the scientific advice is that they cannot be held safely then of course we must follow that.

“If they can go ahead, every effort must be made to facilitate these elections and the Government should encourage postal vote take-up and set guidelines for Covid-secure polling stations and counting facilities.”

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden says officers are continuing with their planning for the all-out elections in May.

He said: “They are professional officers, we’ve got a really good elections team in Warrington.

“Until I’m advised otherwise, we are planning on those elections taking place in May.

“Ultimately, we will go into an election, whenever it is, based on our record running this council and what we’ve delivered and how we’ve continued to operate and provide vital services during what has been an unprecedented situation with the Covid pandemic.

“Unless you can say that people can campaign freely, of whatever party they are, and unless you can say that all the eligible voters can participate in an election – whether they want to vote in person or by post – then how can you hold an election?”

Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, says the elections should only be held if they can be safe, fair, and transparent – otherwise a delay will serve democracy best.

He said: “The Conservatives will only hold the elections if they see electoral advantage in a largely mail based campaign which they are best placed to afford.

“However, they fear that the mishandling of the Covid crisis, and Brexit ‘teething problems’, may still be so bad in May that they would be punished at the polls, in which case delay is likely.

“This is no way to run the country.”