Last two hours left before Whitechapel polls close in Tower Hamlets by-election
20:00 01 December 2016
Polls close tonight at 10pm for the controversial Whitechapel by-election in London’s East End to replace a councillor jailed for housing fraud.
Shahed Ali—a cabinet member in banned former Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s discredited ‘Tower Hamlets First’ administration—was sent down for five months in October for cheating the council’s social housing allocations for his own gain.
He was caught out applying for and taking a council flat without declaring that he owned two properties in the area and a restaurant at Frinton-on-Sea in Essex—nor that he was living with his family at Upney in Barking, miles outside the boundary of Tower Hamlets council for which he was elected.
Six political activists—all living locally—have been campaigning vigorously on the doorsteps of this deprived district vying for the seat Ali held for 10 years.
Labour wants to capture the ward with their candidate Victoria Obaze, from Mile End, against Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Ukip.
Her competitors are Lib Dem’s Emanuel Andjelic from Bethnal Green, Ukip’s Martin Smith from Poplar and the other three from Shadwell—Tory Will Fletcher, Greens’ James Wilson and independent Shafi Ahmed.
Council electoral officials have been under pressure to make sure voting doesn’t fall into chaos after the ballot-rigging, mass registration frauds and polling station intimidation of the 2014 Tower Hamlets council elections.
They have gone through the Whitechapel electoral rolls with a fine toothcomb to make sure all the voters this time are legitimate.
Five polling stations have been open from 7am, at the John Smith children’s centre in Stepney Way and four local primary schools—Kobi Nazrul in Settles Street, Harry Gosling in Fairclough Street, English Martyrs in St Mark Street and Shapla in Wellclose Square.
The ballot count starts after 10pm at the Town Hall in Mulberry Place, Blackwall, with the result expected in the early hours of tomorrow.