A FORMER mayor of Bradford has said a new bill requiring photo ID at polling stations would be "particularly bad for democracy in Bradford."

Councillor Geoff Reid, who was Lord Mayor for 2016/17 and is a Liberal Democrat Councillor for Eccleshill, says the Government's plans would discriminate against young people.

Cllr Reid says young people are much less likely to have passports, driving licenses or bus passes.

At a meeting of Bradford Council next week Cllr Reid will put forward a motion calling for members to urge the House of Lords to block the bill, and to work with groups who may be disenfranchised by the bill if it does become law.

He will say that the changes will be "particularly harmful to Bradford" - a district with the youngest population in the country.

The bill would require mandatory voter ID and give Government ministers power over the independent Electoral Commission.

Critics have argued that the bill discriminates against people who do not have photo ID such as s driving licence or passport, including young people, minority groups and the homeless, although the Government has argued that people without ID would be able to apply for free "voter cards."

In his motion Cllr Reid says: “The Bill claims to be a response to electoral fraud, but whenever there has been suspicion of fraud in Bradford, West Yorkshire Police, have been reluctant to follow-up allegations, preferring to leave such matters to the Electoral Commission.

"The maintenance of a properly funded, independent Electoral Commission with power to prosecute is in Bradford’s interest as a large local authority.”

The motion notes that an all-party House of Commons committee chaired by a Conservative MP, has urged the Government to pause the Bill as “not fit for purpose”.

Cllr Reid added: “I think it is important for Bradford to add its concerns to theirs. In a democracy, changing election rules should always be done through all-party consultation and agreement.

"The ruling party pushing through changes to suit itself and weaken groups which it thinks will vote for its opponents is normally the sort of thing that takes place in dictatorships.”

Keighley MP Robbie Moore recently took a different view in Parliament - supporting the bill earlier this week and saying it was "well known" that votes are regularly manipulated in his constituency - a seat he won in the 2019 General Election.

The Council meeting will be held in St George's Hall rather than the Council Chamber in City Hall due to the need for social distancing measures.