Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 15:33 UK

Election dates set to be merged

The count
The government says holding both elections together will save money

The government is to press ahead with plans to hold the 2009 English local and European elections on the same day.

The change, which must be approved by both houses of Parliament by 7 November if it is to take place, would see both polls take place on 4 June.

Ministers say it will make things easier for voters and administrators and will cost less to run.

The Tories have suggested Gordon Brown wants to hold them together because he is "terrified" of a double defeat.

The two dates were combined in 2004, the last time elections to the European Parliament were held. The government says voter turnout for the European Parliament went up from 24% in 1999 to 34.5%.

Boosting numbers

It wants to do the same again next year and has laid a draft order before Parliament, proposing putting back the current local election date of 7 May until the European elections date on 4 June.

It would affect 34 councils in England and could save 10m, the Department for Communities and Local Government estimates.

Mayoral elections in Doncaster, Hartlepool, North Tyneside and Stoke would also be affected.

Local Government Minister John Healey said: "Like in 2004, holding local elections alongside the European elections in 2009 could help boost voter turnout and improve the democratic process.

"And avoiding two separate elections within a month will be more convenient for voters, less costly for the taxpayer and more efficient for electoral administrators."

Under the 2007 Local Government Act, ministers can change local election dates by issuing an order, rather than having to pass a new act in Parliament.

Labour did badly in this year's local elections, lost the London mayoralty and has lost two Parliamentary seats in recent by-elections.

Conservative local government spokesman Bob Neill has suggested the government is keen to move the date of next year's local elections because Mr Brown is "running scared" and fears another set of bad results.

The government says the change is supported by the Electoral Commission, the Association of Electoral Adminstrators and the Local Government Association.


SEE ALSO
Brown 'fears double poll defeat'
18 Aug 08 |  UK Politics

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