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By-election for vacant councillor seat likely be delayed until 2021 due to coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 11:45 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 07 May 2020

A by-election for the Framlingham seat at East Suffolk Council is the latest election which cannot be held until 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis. Picture: SARAH lUCY BROWN

A by-election for the Framlingham seat at East Suffolk Council is the latest election which cannot be held until 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis. Picture: SARAH lUCY BROWN

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A by-election to replace an East Suffolk councillor who resigned in March is not likely to take place for another year because of coronavirus, the authority has said.

East Suffolk Council will hold the by-election in May 2021, but it cannot change the balance of power at the authority. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCILEast Suffolk Council will hold the by-election in May 2021, but it cannot change the balance of power at the authority. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Conservative councillor for Framlingham, William Taylor, ceased his council position on March 23, citing family and personal reasons.

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A by-election would normally be held at the earliest opportunity, but because of the coronavirus social distancing restrictions, this is not likely to happen until May 2021.

An East Suffolk Council spokeswoman said: “The government has made emergency legislation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This states that by-elections will take place on May 6 2021. So, we cannot hold an election until that date.

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“After the current restrictions are lifted, and the lockdown is eased, further legislation might be made to enable by-elections to be held earlier than May 6 2021. However, until that happens, we will have to wait until next May for a by-election to be held.

“Meanwhile, councillor Maurice Cook, the other serving councillor for the Framlingham ward, has taken on responsibility for the whole of the area, and can respond to queries or concerns which residents might have.”

Planned elections on Thursday for the police and crime commissioner and a third of Ipswich Borough Council have already been put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, with both the PCC and those Ipswich councillors who would have been defending their seats understood to be continuing on for an additional year.

It means that next May looks set to include the Framlingham by-election, PCC, and IBC elections, as well as the existing Suffolk County Council elections which are already scheduled for 2021.

It is not yet clear if the PCC and Ipswich elections will be for a reduced three-year term to bring it back in line with the ordinary four-year cycle it would have been on if elections had been held this year.

The Conservatives have a comfortable majority at East Suffolk, meaning that the result of the Framlingham seat by-election next year cannot alter the balance of power at the authority.

The party secured 39 seats in the new council’s first election last May, compared to seven for Labour, four for the Greens, three Liberal Democrats and two Independents.


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