11:58am Thursday 22nd May 2014
By Claire Armstrong
Police will be out in force today to try to combat intimidation and fraud at the local and European elections.
But the force would not say whether officers will be stationed at each of the district’s 247 polling stations, only that each would be monitored.
The Electoral Commission has identified Bradford as one of 16 areas at high risk of vote-rigging and bullying.
This week all political parties united behind a call for calm on the campaign trail after reports of violence, verbal abuse and criminal damage.
But since then another complaint about intimidation of a political activist has been made to police in Bradford.
A Labour Party member said he was verbally abused in the street as he was going about his business in Heaton on Monday.
George Pope, the party’s election agent in the ward, said it happened as he was making a trip to Heights Lane Post Office at around 1pm.
He said he got out of his car but within seconds a man approached him and started “swearing and blinding” at him.
Mr Pope said he got back in his car and, in his rear-view mirror, saw another seven or eight people approaching.
READ MORE ON BRADFORD'S LOCAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS 2014
He said: “I just put my foot on the gas and drove home as quickly as I could. I got back home and realised I was completely shaken up.”
His candidate in the ward, Nussrat Mohammed, said she had been so alarmed at escalating tensions in the ward she had considered standing down from the race but decided to carry on as she had “made a commitment” to stand.
She said: “I have had community members who have contacted me to say they are apprehensive and frightened to show support for the parties they want to show support for – not just the Labour Party.”
Earlier this week, Councillor Imdad Hussain, who is seeking re-election in the same ward for the Peace Party, said he too had considered stepping down from the elections after he was physically assaulted and had his car windscreen smashed.
He condemned any violence and called for calm elections, as did all other parties with candidates standing in the ward.
They are Peter Davis (Respect), David Ford (Green), Sajid Mahmood (Con) and Mike McNally (Lib Dem).
Detective Inspector Ian Lawrie, of West Yorkshire Police’s Protective Services, said: “We are aware of a report of an alleged public-order offence which took place in Haworth Road, Heaton.
“We are looking into the circumstances to identify if any offences have occurred.”
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