ELECTION preparation is underway for May, despite fears they may be postponed to prevent the risk of increased spreading of the coronavirus.

BCP Council is due to host votes for the police and crime commissioner and parish councils alongside by-elections for two of its councillors who died last year.

Graham Farrant, its chief executive and the returning officer for the area, said postal voting would be an “effective” way for people vulnerable to the virus to take part.

"We are making arrangements for the safe delivery of elections at polling stations which include many of the measures you’ve become used to in shops and banks over recent months, such as hand sanitiser, floor markings and face masks,” he said.

“We are also aware that a higher number of our electorate may wish to conduct their vote by post on this occasion, given the ongoing situation.”

He said the older demographic of the area – and related increased vulnerability to the coronavirus – postal voting would be a safer option for the May 6 vote.

The council has begun encouraging people who choose to to ensure they sign up to take part by post rather than in person.

Under existing legislation balloting will take place in May but some people, including Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, have said it is “inevitable” elections will be postponed until later in the year.

It has been reported the government is drawing up separate plans for June, July and September as contingencies.

However canvassers have called for an October date due to concerns it may be difficult to have enough local campaigners available in the summer months.

In the BCP Council area there will be voting for Dorset’s police and crime commissioner and for the new Throop and Holdenhurst parish council.

There will also be by-elections in its Commons and Canford Heath wards following the deaths of councillors Colin Bungey and Pete Parrish last year.

Postal application forms are available on the council’s website or by contacting its elections officers.