Parish elections set to go ahead - and voting will get you a free pen

Hellesdon Parish Council's by-elections will not go ahead this week. Picture; Archant

Hellesdon Parish Council's by-elections will not go ahead this week. Picture; Archant - Credit: Archant

A parish council’s by-election is set to go ahead as planned this week, despite mounting concern over coronavirus.

A by-election for seats on Hellesdon Parish Council was triggered this month following the resignations of four councillors from their roles, which as it stands will take place on Thursday.

However, with the government advising May’s local elections be postponed until next year, along with the selection of a new police and crime commissioner, doubt was cast over Thursday’s poll.

As it stands, though, Broadland District Council - which organises the elections - has said it can still go ahead as planned, with a number of arrangements in place to mitigate for concern over the outbreak.

Pens and pencils will be distributed on a single use basis, while voters will be urged to wash their hands both as they enter and exit the polling stations.

A spokesman for Broadland said: “The election is going ahead and those who are self-isolating can use an emergency proxy vote. They will need to call the election team at Broadland Council and their nominated person must be on the register to vote.”

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Natasha Carver, clerk of Hellesdon Parish Council said: “Boxes of pens and pencils in the polling stations will be placed at the election booths and will be on a single use basis. We will also be making sure that voters wash their hands as they come in and out of the stations and will be regularly wiping down surfaces and cleaning.

“We are regularly checking with Broadland for updates, but until we hear otherwise the elections will go ahead.

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“It probably will have an impact on the turnout of the election, however, postal votes have already been received and Broadland will be following all the advice and guidelines to reduce any risks.”

It comes after the council came under criticism for a decision not to issue polling cards ahead of the elections, which Mrs Carver said would provide a saving of more than £3,000 to the council.

The elections will be held in the council chamber of the parish offices for the north west ward and St Paul’s Church for the south east ward on Thursday, March 19.

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