Friday, 6 May 2011

Labour intimidates voters in Derby

Jangir Khan, third from left, wins the Normanton ward for Labour
(Look at all those 'British' faces)

POLICE were called to a Normanton polling station after reports that voters felt "intimidated" by political activists outside.

There were complaints that some people outside were telling voters who to vote for and that one person was led to a polling booth at the Indian Community Centre, in Rawdon Street, by a candidate's supporter.

One 72-year-old woman said she was stopped in the centre's car park and had her polling card taken from her.

She said she was then told who to vote for.

She said: "It was something I was not used to.

"I have voted for many years and every year I just walk straight into the polling station.

"It was very intimidating being told who to vote for. I didn't want any problems."

Conservative candidates stood outside at the polling station claimed some Labour supporters were accosting voters.

But Jangir Khan, Labour candidate for the Normanton ward, said the tension was because people were feeling "passionate" about the local election.

He said: "The other parties have said we were intimidating people but it was not true at all.

"I think they were concerned about people standing around because Normanton has always been a safe Labour seat. We were not telling people who to vote for because we know the rules."

Conservative candidate Ashley Waterhouse said voters had told him they felt intimidated.

He said: "We were prepared to have a fair fight but it did not feel like we could have one because there was a big group of Labour supporters outside the polling station."

Dawn Gee, Liberal Democrat candidate for the ward, said she thought it was "appalling".

She said: "The polling station should have been closed as soon as the complaints were made."

A police spokesperson said: "Police officers went to the polling station after reports that voters were being intimidated."

She added that an officer stayed at the polling station for around half an hour until tensions had eased between candidates.

Steve Dunning, the returning officer who was overseeing the city's elections, said only two supporters were allowed on the premises to accompany each candidate.

Under Electoral Commission rules, they are there only to encourage people to vote, and are not allowed to "irritate voters, exert undue influence or obstruct the polling station".

He said: "I told the candidates and the parties that they had to abide by the election rules."

He added that the centre's presiding officer was "quick to act".

He also said that similar complaints had been received from voters at St Augustine Community Centre, in Almond Street, Normanton, although police were not called there.

This is Derbyshire

No comments:

All material published on these pages represents the personal views of the DERBY PATRIOT and should not be taken to represent any political party.