Local elections 2021: your guide to voting today in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble

Lancashire residents are heading to the polls today in a bumper crop of local elections.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 7:01 am

Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm and voters are being reminded that precautionary measures have been put in place to ensure that the process is Covid-secure.

That means people are expected to wear a face covering when casting their ballot - unless they are exempt from doing so - and are also being asked to bring their own pen or pencil to mark their cross in the box. However, supplies of both face coverings and something with which to write will be available for anybody who forgets and pens and pencils will be disinfected between uses.

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Voting in person will be a little different this year in order to ensure the process is Covid-secure

Residents are also being reminded to check their polling card to confirm the location of their polling station, as social distancing requirements have resulted in a small number of voting venues changing this year.

Voters will be eligible to take part in up to four polls depending on where they live:

***Lancashire County Council elections in all 12 Lancashire districts - including Preston, Chorley, South Ribble, Wyre, Fylde, Ribble Valley and West Lancashire.

***District council elections in areas including Preston, Chorley and West Lancashire, along with by-elections in the wards of St. Ambrose and Longton and Hutton West on South Ribble Borough Council.

***Town and parish council elections in several areas.

Lancashire County Council’s democratic and member services manager Josh Mynott said that voters should expect the usual Covid-safe precautions that people have come to expect in everyday life.

“There will be protective screens up, as well as extra staff on hand to manage people coming in and out. So people might be asked to queue outside a polling station if there are already two or three people inside to make sure everybody can keep nice and safe.”

Paul Bond, head of legal and democratic services, added: “There’ll be sanitiser at the entrance and the exit so people can use that for their hands. The polling stations will be rigorously cleaned and they’ll be ventilated where we can.”

Anybody who applied for a postal vote this year and has not yet returned it must ensure it is delivered to the council address on the envelope in their voting pack by the time polls close at 10pm tonight if they want it to be counted.

The deadline to apply for someone else to vote on your behalf - a proxy vote - has been missed if it is being used for non-medical reasons. However, because of the chance somebody might be prevented from voting in-person this year because of the need to self-isolate at short notice, emergency proxy votes can be applied for for that reason until 5pm today. Anyone who is in that position should contact their local council to make the arrangements.

The practicalities of counting the votes mean that the process will not be undertaken overnight this year - and the results will be staggered over several days. The district council declarations will be made on Friday, while the outcome of the county council vote will follow on Saturday and the Police and Crime Commissioner poll on Monday.

You can catch up with all of the Post’s pre-election coverage - and keep up with the results as they come in - in the Politics section of our website.