Elections in the City of London could be postponed a year

Elections in the City of London could be postponed a year

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Elections in the City of London are likely to be delayed from next year until 2022 because of the pandemic.

The move comes as City bosses say there’s not enough time to update the electoral register this month, as not everyone has come back to the Square Mile after lockdown.

Unlike other local authorities in the UK, businesses can cast votes in the City of London local elections.

Some 6,000 residents are on the electoral roll with 12,000 business votes. 

They are represented by 100 Common Councillors who are elected by voters in 25 wards. 

And some wards are made up of business voters as there are so many offices in the City.

Policy and resources chair Catherine McGuinness told the Court of Common Council: “We must be sure we reach all our electors fairly.”

She said it would be fairer to put the elections back from March 2021 to March 2022.

Many businesses have not returned to the City yet after lockdown and have not replied to enquiries about getting registered on the updated electoral roll.

This May’s London mayoral elections were a casualty of the pandemic to protect voters and candidates, and let politicians concentrate on the disaster.

Some councillors said the Corporation should not delay.

Simon Duckworth, of Bishopsgate ward, said it “would be a means of demonstrating some stability in the City” if the elections went ahead next year.

Sue Pearson, who represents Cripplegate ward, said if the US could run an election without delay the City should.

Graeme Harrower said the plan to delay elections was based on “contrived and spurious” grounds.

However, Anne Fairweather who represents Tower ward, argued; “We have to consider to what extent the vote would be legitimate if it were held next March.”

The first and second readings for the bill to postpone the elections were passed by 84 votes to 22, with three abstentions.

The final decision will be made at next month’s Court of Common Council.

By LDRS Reporter Julia Gregory

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