Polls have closed in English local elections

Polls have closed in local elections across England amid anger in some areas after residents reported that they were prevented from voting.

Voters in areas piloting controversial ID trials were unable to cast their ballot.

Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking councils have all trialled the scheme to help cut down voter fraud.

MPs and councillors said people, including elderly residents, were being turned away because they did not have appropriate ID.

Angela Wilkins, leader of the Labour group in Bromley, said five people have been unable to vote at polling stations as a result of the pilot and that the scheme is also causing long delays.

She tweeted: "Just been round the C Palace polling stations. 5 people not able to vote due to #voterID pilot and several walked away because of queues @CatSmithMP @labour4bromley. So why are we doing this .@LBBromley ?"

The presiding officer at the polling station in Sydenham Tennis Club, in the Borough of Bromley, said "Only a very small percentage" of voters had forgotten or were unable to provide ID.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said residents had received five pieces of information explaining the change in the rules, including leaflets, a note with their polling cards and a note on the information about recycling and bin collection.

He added: "Voters always have the choice to go home and get some ID."

Kirsteen Ross, 67, who lives nearby, said she had received at least two leaflets about the change, although no polling cards had been delivered down her street.

"Polling cards are important because they're a reminder," she said.

Labour councillor Tahir Aziz said a man was turned away from voting at a polling station on Walton Road in Woking because his form of ID, a Surrey County Council document with his picture on it, was not accepted.

Speaking to the Press Association, Mr Aziz said: "This gentleman turned up, showed his ID which included a picture that was clearly him, it was an exact resemblance, but they wouldn't accept it as it was not on the list of acceptable forms of ID.

"He was fuming. He was furious. He is a British national and he couldn't vote.

"It is having an impact on certain people being disenfranchised by this trial."

Ellie Reeves, MP for Lewisham West and Penge, said that two people had been turned away from voting this morning because they did not have ID on them.

She said: "I've had reports throughout the day of queues at polling stations. It's a much longer process than normal. You have people leaving the queues to get to work or pick up kids from school.

"I do think it's put a hugely unnecessary barrier up to people wanting to vote.

"Compare that to the fact there was only one conviction for electoral fraud based on impersonation in 2017, it just seems like it's using a sledgehammer to crack a nut in terms of what it's going to achieve.

"Bromley is a fairly affluent, well-settled community. But if you have this in places where the population is much more transient, where there's a much higher ethnic minority population... it could have an incredibly detrimental effect on people being able to vote if it's rolled out across the country."

One elderly Bromley resident who was also turned away at the polls this morning said he was "shocked" to be denied his vote because he did not have a bank card or passport.

"This is a nonsense scheme," Peter White, 76, told The Independent.

Hazel Walters, a resident of Bromley since 1983, told the newspaper: "It's absurd. I think it will discriminate against people. Not everyone's got a passport, a driving licence and all of that. I think people will be disenfranchised," she said.

Cat Smith MP, shadow minister for voter engagement, said: "The Government was warned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and over 40 leading charities and academics the voter ID will have a disproportionate impact on older people, young people, BME communities, trans people and disabled people.

"This was always going to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut."

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