Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Consultation on timing of next year's local elections

Consultation on timing of next year's local elections

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (119) issued by The Government News Network on 20 May 2008

Local Government Minister John Healey has today launched a consultation on whether or not the date of the 2009 local elections should be moved to coincide with elections for the European Parliament.

Next year's local elections are currently scheduled for 7 May 2009, with the European elections due to take place four weeks later on 4 June 2009.

While no decisions have been taken, combining these elections has the potential to make them more convenient for voters and more efficient for administrators, by avoiding asking electors to vote on two separate occasions in a short period of time. Combining the elections may therefore encourage more people to take part in elections and improve the democratic process as a whole.

However holding two different elections on the same day may confuse some voters. This consultation seeks views on where the balance of advantage lies - holding the local and European elections on the same day or on different days four weeks apart.

Local Government Minister, John Healey MP said:

"We want to see a modern, efficient and secure electoral system which is as convenient and as straightforward for the voter as possible.

"Holding two elections on the same day could make voting more convenient and increase participation. But it may be confusing for voters.

"It is important to consider all of the potential impacts of holding elections together. This is why our consultation document seeks views on whether or not it is better to combine the elections."

The consultation will ask for views on the impact of our proposal to postpone the English local elections. In particular:

* Whether the local elections in 2009 should be moved from 7 May to 4 June, so that they are held on the same day as the European Parliamentary elections;
* Whether, if we move the elections to principal authorities, we should also move the date of parish council elections where they are scheduled to take place on 7 May 2009;
* What practical issues may arise as a result of combining local (and where applicable, parish) elections with the European Parliamentary elections;
* What action could be taken to address these practical issues - whether by local authorities, Government or the Electoral Commission?

Subject to the outcome of the consultation and to Parliament's approval of the necessary legislation, any postponement of the 2009 local elections would be put in place by Autumn 2008.

Notes to editors

1. Copies of the consultation paper Moving the date of English Local Government elections to the date of the European Parliament elections in 2009 is available from
http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/2009electionsconsultation

2. According to the Electoral Commission, joining the local and European elections in 2004 greatly improved the turnout rate for the European Parliamentary elections from 24% in 1999 to 34.5% in 2004.

News Releases: http://www.communities.gov.uk/newsroom

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