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Voters turned away in Barnet as local election polls open

Polls across the country opened today to allow voters to choose new councils, mayors, police and crime commissioners (PCCs) and devolved bodies, but polling stations in Barnet have been hit by widespread problems.

Hundreds of Barnet voters have claimed on Twitter that they were told they weren’t on the electoral register.

Barnet Council said: "We are aware of problems with our electoral registration lists this morning at polling stations in Barnet which have meant that a number of people who had not brought their polling card with them were unable to vote.

"We are working to resolve this issue and the updated registers have been sent to all the polling stations, which we expect to be in place by 10am. In the meantime, people who have their polling cards with them are able to vote.

"We are advising residents to bring their polling cards. If people were unable to vote this morning they are being advised to return if possible later before the stations close at 10pm. We apologise for the problems."

However, many voters reported being turned away even with cards.

Tom Copley, a Labour member of the London Assembly and chair of the Housing Committee, blamed the problems on Barnet Council outsourcing electoral services to Capita and said that they could face legal action.

Unison led strikes of Barnet council workers last year over proposals to outsource jobs in adult services, school meals and children's services.

As well as in London, where Conservative’s Zac Goldsmith and Labour’s Sadiq Khan are in the race to replace Boris Johnson MP, mayoral elections are taking place in Liverpool, Salford and Bristol. Because of its devolution deal, Greater Manchester’s first-ever mayor election will take place May next year.

Votes are also being held for 125 councils, 40 PCCs, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and Parliamentary by-elections for Ogmore and Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough.

Today’s elections are also widely seen as the first test of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn MP, which has been embroiled in controversy this week after accusations of anti-Semitism and racism within the party, leading to the suspensions of former London mayor Ken Livingstone, MP Naz Shah and activist Jackie Walker. Corbyn has now announced an independent inquiry into the accusations.

UPDATE 12.00pm

Barnet Council contacted PSE and stated that they do not outsource electoral services.

In another development, Sophie Walker, the Women's Equality Party's London mayor candidate, told the Press Association that she would register complaints with Barnet Council and with the London Assembly over the voting issues.

(Image: a polling sign is put up outside Kitson Hall in Barnes, c. Andrew Matthews from PA Wire/ Press Association Images)


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