The statement by the Prime Minister last week about the roadmap for unlocking Britain offers us all some hope that we can start to see an end to this crisis.
However, it is clear from the Government’s roadmap that there will still be significant restrictions in place when local elections happen at the beginning of May.
There will be three different sets of elections this year: for Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Coronavirus restrictions mean that these elections will be very different from normal years.
Many polling stations may have to change from their normal location because it is either not available or can’t be operated in a Covid-secure way. There may be fewer polling stations if we find there are difficulties getting enough staff to operate them.
All of this could mean that you will have go to a different polling station and it could be further away than your normal one.
Once you get to your polling station, there could well be a lengthy queue due to social distancing restrictions and because it will take people three times as long to fill in all the ballot papers. It is possible your polling station could be forced to close at short notice if staff have to self-isolate.
In the days before the election you could become infected or be told to self-isolate because someone you have been in contact with has tested positive. It this happens you won’t be able to vote at a polling station.
These problems don’t arise if you have a postal vote, so we are urging everyone to consider voting early by post in this year’s elections. It’s easy: you are sent the ballot papers to your home about two weeks before polling day and you post them back in the supplied envelope. It doesn’t cost you a penny.
You do need to apply for a postal vote. To make this as easy as possible we have a sent an application form to every registered voter in Ipswich who doesn’t already one.
I would urge everyone who receives a form to apply so that you don’t lose your right to vote this year.