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Strong measures in place “We want a clear message to go out that there is zero tolerance to fraud in the upcoming elections. Any allegation of malpractice will be promptly and thoroughly investigated.” tower hamlets returning officer john williams Free and fair elections The council and police will investigate all allegations of irregularities or fraud robustly, promptly and fully. News News in brief DLR & Tube strikes DLR workers employed by Serco are scheduled to strike for 48 hours from 4am on both January 29 and February 4. Members of the RMT transport workers union have voted to take industrial action in a dispute over a wide range of issues, including pay award talks and use of agency staff. The second strike, starting on February 4, coincides with the first of two 48-hour walkouts by RMT members working on London Underground. Tube workers have voted to go on strike for 48 hours on February 4 and February 11 in protest at plans to close ticket offices and cut 750 jobs. 7ft statues advise on A&E treatment WATCH out for seven-foot-tall yellow statues of ill and injured men in Watney Market this Monday, January 27 from 10am-12 noon. They are being displayed by NHS staff and local pharmacists to illustrate common health conditions and where to seek the appropriate treatment – such as the pharmacy, GP or walk-in service. GP Dr Sam Everington, chair of the CCG, said: “It’s estimated that up to 40 per cent of people who visit A&E do not need to be there. We’re keen to ensure that everyone in Tower Hamlets is fully aware of all of the healthcare options available to them.” Health news on page 10. Protocol for fairer elections The new protocol has been praised for being among the most robust in the country.” John Williams Ch Sup Dave Stringer, returning officer John Williams and Tom Hawthorn from the Electoral Commission sign the new local protocol BY IAN READ THE May elections in Tower Hamlets will be the most complex to date but will have the strongest system in London to prevent fraud – and one of the most robust in the country. A blueprint to ensure free and fair local elections and help to establish trust in the electoral system was launched by the council on Friday, January 24 by the main agencies involved in running the election. Tower Hamlets returning officer John Williams was joined by Tom Hawthorn, head of electoral policy for the Electoral Commission, borough police commander Dave Stringer and Louise Stamp, the council’s electoral services manager, to sign the protocol. Political parties and other organisations involved in the elections have already indicated they will also sign up. The protocol embodies a commitment to: work towards a free and possible within the current law. Mr Williams said: “The Electoral Commission has praised these new procedures as being among the most robust in the country. We have gone above and beyond the guidance of the Electoral Commission and it formally supports this new protocol. “In the past there has been a breakdown in trust between individuals and organisations involved in the electoral process. The protocol addresses some of the issues raised and stands as a commitment to a more positive experience at future elections.” Chief Superintendent Stringer said: “The Metropolitan Police are pleased to commit to this protocol, which we see as a positive step and an example of our joint commitment to prevent and detect electoral malpractice.” Mr Hawthorn added: “Any allegations of electoral fraud must be dealt with quickly and robustly and we are pleased that the returning officer and the Metropolitan Police have put in place plans to address concerns raised by voters, campaigners and candidates in the borough. “We will now closely monitor the situation in Tower Hamlets and will say if we believe further action needs to be taken.” Among the safeguards to ensure confidence in free and fair elections are: Police will be based at some polling stations on election day and a mobile police team will respond as necessary. Police will prevent large groups of supporters congregating around polling stations and obstructing voters. There will be a limit on numbers of activists who can gather outside. A direct dedicated email address for agents and candidates to report concerns will be introduced from February. Allegations made to the returning officer will be investigated fully and responded to within 24 hours. If the returning officer passes an allegation to the police, they will respond within 48 hours. Extra training for polling officers around challenging voters they may have suspicions about. At the beginning of March, letters will be sent to every property in the borough confirming who the council currently has registered at the property. All late registration and absent vote applications will be verified against other council records. Election officers have increased the number of visits they make to check properties. Party campaigners will be discouraged from handling postal votes and asked not to assist with completing of ballot papers. fair election in May ensure any allegations are correctly reported and investigated campaign fairly within the law and abide by the local protocol. The protocol makes clear that the Metropolitan Police and the council take electoral fraud extremely seriously and will investigate all allegations of irregularities robustly, promptly and fully. Tower Hamlets has been working closely with the police and Electoral Commission to establish an elections system which goes beyond what most councils do and which has the strongest anti-fraud measures Police will be based at some polling stations on election day and a mobile police team will respond as necessary 27 JANUARY – 2 FEBRUARY 2014 NEWS FROM TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL AND YOUR COMMUNITY 3


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