BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL: Local elections expected to be postponed for a second time
Senior figures at Bristol City Council expect local elections to be postponed for a second time due to the pandemic.
Mayoral, local authority and other local elections are due to take place on May 6, having been delayed a year because of coronavirus.
But the Government is keeping the date under review as NHS hospital admissions for Covid-19 continue to rise during England’s third lockdown.
In Bristol City Hall, or at least its virtual equivalent, a Conservative councillor and the officer in charge of licensing have said the “smart money” is on a postponement of several months.
The subject came up as a council committee discussed the likelihood that the elections would further delay a raft of new taxi policies set to go out for consultation.
Cllr Richard Eddy said yesterday (January 20) he thought the likelihood of the elections going ahead on May 6 was “practically zero”.
“Realistically, I don’t think we’re going to have a May election,” he told a council committee.
“I believe the Government have been talking about …June or July.
“I still think probably the smart money is on even later, up to September.”
Licensing manager Jonathan Martin agreed, saying he thought “the idea of bringing potentially large groupings of people…for an election” while hospital admissions were still rising would likely force the Government to push the date back.
An eight-week consultation on a new draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy 2021-26 is set to start mid-to-late February.
But it cannot take place during the election period, which officially starts on March 22 under the current timetable, so would have to be postponed until afterwards, the public safety and protection committee heard.
The taxi trade has already been waiting nearly a year for policy changes they requested making card machines mandatory for all Hackney carriages.
A consultation on the proposal and other changes affecting Hackney carriages and private-hire vehicles was set to start in February last year.
It was delayed by the pandemic as well as a requirement on the council to revise its taxi policies in line with new national standards, the committee heard.
The resulting new 94-page draft policy covers everything from vehicle specifications to driver requirements.
It includes longer licence ban periods for convicted drivers and allows the council to require existing drivers to conduct an English language proficiency test.
Words: Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter
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