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Counting Finally Finishes in Tower Hamlets

Wednesday 28th May 2014

After numerous delays and claims of voter intimidation, counting for the local elections in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has now finished.

A polling station in Tower Hamlets

Labour has 20 seats, but lost overall control of the council. Independent party Tower Hamlets First has 18 seat and the Conservatives have four.

One further ward, Blackwall and Cubitt Town, still needs to have three new councillors elected after polls were called off following the death of a candidate.

Yesterday the Electoral Commission confirmed it is investigating allegations of mis-management surrounding the count.

The count had already been delayed twice when electoral chiefs at Tower Hamlets suspended the operations at around 3am Monday morning. It resumed at around 6.30pm last night with the further delay is being blamed on candidates and political agents being at work.

The local election results were due on Friday following the votes being cast on Thursday. Tower Hamlets was the last borough to declare its Local Election results and was also blamed for the London Region's results in the European Election being the last in the UK to be announced, finally coming through after 3am on Monday morning.

The council has since been accused of failing to prevent voters being intimidated outside voting stations. with some politicians saying they witnessed crowds shouting at people as they arrived to cast their votes. Leaflets were also allegedly left behind in booths to influence voters at the last minute.

The Electoral Commission has now confirmed it will investigate.

"Clearly there have been issues at the Tower Hamlets count and we need to make sure we understand what happened, and the reasons for it, before reaching any conclusions," a spokeswoman said.

"As part of our review, we will be talking to the returning officer and regional returning officer. We will be looking closely at what happened during the count, as well as the planning that took place beforehand."

The findings of the review will be published in the commission's report on the elections.

Police are also urging anyone who believed they had witnessed behaviour amounting to criminal activity to come forward.

Acting Superintendent Helen Lewis, of Tower Hamlets borough, said: "Although we have received no allegations of harassment, intimidation or fraudulent behaviour at polling stations, we would, of course, be keen to speak with anyone who has concerns."

The council has said it had in place the most stringent set of measures across London and insisted it had found no evidence to support allegations of malpractice in previous elections.

It also confirmed that parties used their right to request that ballot papers be individually adjudicated by the returning officer.