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Coronavirus: Norwich MP urged to shelve city council and crime commissioner elections

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP and the government's constitution minister. Pic: Neil Didsbury

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP and the government's constitution minister. Pic: Neil Didsbury

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The coronavirus outbreak could lead to the shelving of elections for Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner and at Norwich City Council.

The Electoral Commission has written to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith - the government's constitution minister - to recommend local elections be postponed.

The commission says the coronavirus outbreak means there are 'real risks' to holding votes in May and has advocated ministers put off the votes until the autumn due to the 'unprecedented times'.

Mayoral, council and police and crime commissioner elections are scheduled for May 7.

In Norfolk, there are due to be elections for a third of seats at Norwich City Council and for the role of Norfolk police and crime commissioner, currently held by Conservative Lorne Green, who is standing down.

The police and crime commissioner role in Suffolk is also due to be voted on.

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The commission's plea comes only hours after London mayor Sadiq Khan said chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty had assured him there was 'no logical reason to postpone or cancel elections'.

But in its letter to Ms Smith, the commission said voters could be put off participating due to contamination fears around the virus.

Prime minister Boris Johnson, in a sombre press conference in Downing Street, warned that coronavirus was the 'worst public health crisis for a generation'.

Bob Posner, the commission's chief executive, wrote: 'The risks to delivery that have been identified are such that we cannot be confident that voters will be able to participate in the polls safely and confidently, nor that campaigners and parties will be able to put their case to the electorate.

'We therefore call on the government to take steps to provide early clarity to all those with an interest in the electoral process. And on the available information and position we recommend the government now delay the May 7 polls until the autumn.'

Ms Smith said: 'We are working to facilitate the local, mayoral, and police and crime commissioner elections on May 7.

'We continue to work closely with those delivering the elections, while being guided by the evidence and latest advice from medical experts.'

Norfolk police and crime commisssioner Lorne Green. Picture: ANTONY KELLYNorfolk police and crime commisssioner Lorne Green. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

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