Election fraud case dropped as voters head to the polls

A FIERCELY fought local election campaign drew to a close yesterday as voters headed to the polls.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 6th May 2012, 7:30 am

This year, a tense battle between candidates and their supporters has seen allegations of postal vote fraud, complaints over posters and controversy over leaflets.

In Dewsbury South, police were called in to investigate after Coun Khizar Iqbal (Con) raised concerns about postal vote fraud in the Savile Town and Thornhill Lees areas.

Fellow Dewsbury South candidate Shaun Maddox, who was standing for the English Democrats, said he had also reported voting fraud in Thornhill Lees.

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But the police investigation was abandoned after witnesses refused to speak.

A police spokesman said: “Officers met with the alleged victims who were unwilling to give statements to the police. There are, therefore, no current lines of enquiry.”

In Dewsbury East, it was posters and leaflets that sparked the most debate.

Posters put up by Conservative candidate Mark Eastwood carrying the slogan ‘Vote to abolish Kirklees’ were the subject of a formal complaint to the council.

The slogan referred to a Conservative pledge to create two separate councils for north and south Kirklees.

Following advice from its legal team, the council said the wording on the posters was ‘allowable’.

Mr Eastwood said he believed the complaint had been made by rivals. “I guess they don’t like the message, but the people I’ve been talking to on the doorsteps seem to like it,” he said.

Meanwhile, fliers by Chidswell Action Group and Coun Paul Kane (Lab) had Reporter readers putting pen to paper.

A flier by the action group urged voters to overturn the ‘Labour/Liberal Democrat Alliance’ who had voted through the Local Development Framework (LDF), which includes plans to build on local green belt land.

It urged people to vote for the strongest candidate opposing the LDF, but did not make it clear that Coun Kane had voted against his party to reject the plans.

When his campaign team issued a flier with a similar design to make his views on the LDF clear, there was anger in some quarters.

Action group member Mr K Williams wrote: “How low can you get Mr Kane, copying off our leaflet word for word? You have really shown your colours.”

But Cathy Quinn wished Coun Kane the best of luck.

She said: “He has been an excellent councillor for this area. I am always surprised at the amount of time he puts in.”

In all, 30 complaints were made to council concerning election posters and leaflets across the whole of Kirklees.