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ELECTION: Counting resumes at Tower Hamlets after five days’ delay

PUBLISHED: 08:38 27 May 2014 | UPDATED: 09:45 27 May 2014

Police outnumbered by crowds outside Stepney's Troxy where the count for Mayor was held. Photo: David Mirzoeff

Police outnumbered by crowds outside Stepney's Troxy where the count for Mayor was held. Photo: David Mirzoeff

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Counting for Tower Hamlets council election has resumed this morning—five days after Thursdays poll.

A man is arrested outside the Troxy where crowds of Lutfur Rahman supporters gathered. Photo: David MirzoeffA man is arrested outside the Troxy where crowds of Lutfur Rahman supporters gathered. Photo: David Mirzoeff

Delays caused by the high turnout and close results in the elections for Tower Hamlets mayor and councillors caused the London EU count to be held up until the early hours of yesterday morning.

A recount is under way for Bromley South Ward because of the close call of the number of votes cast.

The East End has seen tough security measures at polling stations after allegations of intimidation.

Labour was neck and neck with Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First party yesterday, with 18 councillors each.

The whole counting process was delayed by the close call on the election for mayor, with no clear winner in the first round between mayor Rahman and Labour’s challenger John Biggs—until the second preference votes came through at 1.38am on Saturday. Rahman was declared winner for his second term of office.

Counting for the 42 of the 45 seats on the local authority then began on Sunday, with votes in six of the 20 wards still to be totted up when the count for the London EU poll had to get under way.

The Euro result was not declared until 2.30am yesterday. It was the last for London, which meant London was one of the last UK regions to return European Parliamentary results due to delays in the Tower Hamlets count.

Meanwhile, in the local council poll, parties used their right to request that ballot papers be individually adjudicated by the Returning Officer, which created delay, the authority confirmed.

Election staff worked with police, Electoral Commission and political groups to a new local protocol to make sure polling was safe.

Allegations of malpractice in previous elections had to be investigated by the police and the Electoral Commission, but the Town Hall insisted today that no evidence was found to support the allegations.

“This protocol produced the most stringent set of electoral measures in London, if not the country,” said a Town Hall spokesman.

“The need for transparency lengthened the time taken to count the vote—but accuracy is more important than speed.”

Yet candidates reported several incidents of crowd intimidation at polling stations on Thursday.

Six council wards required recounts. Recounting for Bromley South ward began at 6.30pm this-morning at the Town Hall. The result is looking close.

Thursday’s election turnout across the East End was almost 50 per cent, one of the highest in the country.

Voting for local councillors in Blackwall and Cubitt Town ward was suspended before the polls opened on Thursday because of the sudden death of one of the candidates, Hifzur Rahman, standing for the mayor’s Tower Hamlets First party. The election for the three council seats must be held within 35 days, with a likely date of July 10.

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Mayor Lutfur Rahman won his second term with a majority of more than 3,000 over his closest challenger, Labour’s John Biggs.

Eight other candidates were in the ring, with Tories a long way behind in third, but doing well to push UKIP into fourth place, closely followed by the Greens. But trailing well behind were Lib Dems, Socialists and three independent runners.

Full list and votes cast:

Lutfur Rahman (Tower Hamlets First) 37,395

John Biggs (Labour) 34,143

Christopher Wilford (Conservative) 7,173

Nicholas McQueen (UKIP) 4,819

Chris Smith (Green) 4,699

Reetendra Banerji (Lib Dem) 1,959

Hugo Pierre (Trade Unionist & Socialist) 871

Reza Choudhury (independent)) 205

Mohammed Khan (independent) 164

Hafiz Abdul Kadir (independent) 162

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Turnout was 47.58 per cent, compared to 25.6pc in 2010. Total electorate: 181, 871

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