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Candidates call to cancel by election

By Alex Moore | Donnington | Coronavirus | Published:

All parties contesting a council by-election have called for the poll to be delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The by-election was called after the death of sitting Councillor, Liz Clare.

The election for the Donnington seat on Telford & Wrekin Council was called after the death of sitting councillor Liz Clare in January.

In a joint statement, agents representing Conservative candidate Jay Gough, Liberal Democrat Robbie Kneale and Labour’s Sophie Thompson all say: “The absolute priority for our emergency personnel, council staff, candidates and residents should be focusing on the unprecedented circumstances caused by COVID-19 alongside their health and safety.”

A Telford and Wrekin Council spokesman said a national-level decision about the election date is expected in the next few days.

A by-election for a Donnington and Muxton Parish Council seat, also previously held by Cllr Clare, was due to be held simultaneously on Thursday, April 2.

Mr Kneale and Ms Thompson are also standing for that position, and are joined by Conservative candidate Brett Murray.

Separate local, mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections that were due to take place across the country on May 7 this year are expected to be delayed until 2021.

In the statement, Lib Dem election agent David Ellams, Labour agent Alexander Latham and Conservative agent Emma Thomas say: “We believe the by-elections for Donnington, scheduled to be held on April 2, should be postponed for an interim period.

“The absolute priority for our emergency personnel, council staff, candidates and residents should be focusing on the unprecedented circumstances caused by COVID-19 alongside their health and safety.

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“Currently, both Telford and Wrekin Council and Her Majesty’s Government have no legal power to stop an active election.

“We therefore positively encourage the government to include necessary powers, in the planned emergency legislation, to suspend all by-elections in line with the suspension of this May’s elections during the affected period of time.

“In respect of the advice issued by HM Government, as political parties, we will cease to actively politically campaign in Donnington.

“Instead we will focus our efforts to do all we can to support our community during these unprecedented times.

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“We encourage all residents of our borough to continue to follow the government’s advice.

“We remain united in our support of our community.”

A spokesman for Telford and Wrekin Council said the authority was expecting a national-level decision about the date of the by-elections “later this week”.

Labour member Cllr Clare, who represented the Donnington ward on Telford and Wrekin Council and the Donnington West parish council ward, died aged 74 on January after more than 40 years in local politics.

A notice of poll, published by Telford and Wrekin Council chief executive and returning officer David Sidaway originally scheduled the election for Thursday, April 2.

Alex Moore

By Alex Moore
@TelfordLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Telford.

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