Mayoral candidates’ supporters point to low voter turn-out

Polls closed at 10pm; supporters of Labour candidate Helal Abbas and Independent candidate Lutfur Rahman said turn-out was low at a Stepney polling station

FINDING common ground between the Tower Hamlets mayoral candidates is easier said than done, but supporters of Helal Abbas and Lutfur Rahman were agreed on one thing this afternoon.

As they huddled outside one polling station, John Scurr Primary School in Cephas Street in the Bethnal Green South ward and handed leaflets to the slow trickle of voters entering the school at around 2.30pm, supporters of the Labour and Independent candidates said that turn-out had been low.

Anisur Rahman, 38, the Labour branch secretary in the ward, who had been at the polling station since 7am, said: “Maybe there will be higher turn-out after the schools break up.

“At this polling station there was up to 600 or 800 votes cast by this time for the General Election, but today it’s about 200.”

Mohammed Abdullah, 35, a Labour party member who was handing out leaflets backing Rahman, said: “It is lower than during the last parliamentary election.

“It is cold today which could be the reason.”

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On whether there was high recognition of the five mayoral candidates among Tower Hamlets residents, he said: “So many people know Lutfur.

“He was a two-term council leader and he’s well known in the community.”

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, also visited the school to lend her support to Abbas’ campaign and said she would be visiting further polling stations during the day.

She said: “I think turnout is lower than general across the communities.

“It’s hard to gauge what it is because we’re not getting turn-out numbers from the polling stations.

“I’m not particularly surprised because it’s a few months after the General Election and local elections tend to have lower turn-out.”

Though Ms Ali soon departed, supporters on both sides were determined to remain outside the school until 10pm when polls close, before finding out if their efforts had been of any use.