The Skipton and Ripon Labour party has suspended all meetings and campaigning activities, in line with the national party guidance on measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
We consider it unfortunate, though entirely understandable and absolutely right that this year’s local elections in Craven have been postponed for a year, as they have across the rest of the country, because of the coronavirus crisis.
It is an essential part of our democracy that local councillors are accountable to the electorate and have to decide at a time not of their choosing whether to stand down or seek re-election. But in times of national emergency such as those that we now face all our attention has to be on protecting the vulnerable, assisting the health and caring services and following the guidance of experts.
The coming weeks and months will put great pressure on local authorities that are already stretched as a result of years of budget cuts and it is right that officers and resources should not be diverted by the task of organising elections, that not only require time and effort but also involve use of schools and public buildings and considerable interaction, not least by candidates and political activists engaging with the public.
Meanwhile, those of us who would otherwise have been out conducting election activities will be devoting our time and using our contacts to ensure that those in need receive the help and support they require; that we do all we can to help both voluntary organisations and the health and caring professional cope with all the additional pressures; and that we do all we can to see that official guidance is followed, no matter how much that disrupts our individual lives.