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All you need to know about local elections in May

New Forest voters will be choosing their representatives on the Hampshire County Council
New Forest voters will be choosing their representatives on the Hampshire County Council

PREPARATIONS are under way in Hampshire for residents to head to the polls on 6th May.

In this year’s local elections, voters in the New Forest will be asked to choose county councillors and a new police and crime commissioner. There will also be a number of town and parish council byelections, writes Maria Zaccaro of the Local Democracy reporting service.

Last year’s polls were cancelled due to the pandemic. But earlier this month it was confirmed the elections will now go ahead with new rules to follow, such as residents having to take their own pencil to the polling station.

All 78 seats at Hampshire County Council, currently controlled by the Conservatives, are up for grabs, including the 10 in the New Forest.

This year residents will also be asked to elect a new Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, as Michael Lane will be standing down.

There will be town and parish council byelections to fill vacancies for the Butts Ash ward on Hythe and Dibden Parish Council; Ringwood North ward on Ringwood Town Council; and two seats on Milford Parish Council.

John Coughlan, the county council’s chief executive and county area returning officer, said: “Residents can expect many of the measures we’ve all become used to in shops and banks over recent months, such as hand sanitiser and floor markings, to be put in place.

“Voters will need to wear face coverings and will be asked to use their own pen or pencil. We will continue to monitor the picture locally and nationally to ensure planning for the polls in Hampshire is informed by the latest advice.”

Residents will also be able to vote by proxy or by post. The proxy voting rules – where someone is allowed to vote on someone else’s behalf – will be changed so people who have to self-isolate can request an emergency proxy vote up to 5pm on polling day.

Mark Heath, the police area returning officer for Hampshire, said: “Voting in person will still be available and there will be no change to the hours of polling.

“The count will take more time than for previous polls. However, results should of course still be announced before the terms of new elected officials begin.”

To download a postal vote application, visit https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-01/Postal%20vote%20aplication%20form.pdf

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