The House of Lords is to be asked to overturn a Govern-ment decision which will see votes cast in this year's local government elections cast entirely by post.

The Electoral Reform Society today vowed to lobby the Lords to overturn the decision to make this summer's Council and European elections postal-only across Yorkshire and the Humber.

The watchdog, which keeps a close eye on electoral and voting systems in the UK, has deep concern about the potential for fraud if the polling stations are scrapped.

Police investigations have followed the last two Council elections in Bradford amid claims about the sale of postal votes and intimidation of people who held them.

Last night members of all the Council's political groups were still reeling by the decision of Elections Minister and Shipley MP Chris Leslie to make Yorkshire and the Humber an all-postal-voting pilot after they voted unanimously against the inclusion of Bradford because of the potential for fraud.

But as the row deepened Mr Leslie, a former Bradford councillor, stuck to his views.

He said the Electoral Com-mission which advised the Government on elections was content with postal voting.

"There are pros and cons on both sides," he said. "This still has to go through legislation and where there are objections we will try to answer them." He said allegations were often made which did not have insurmountable evidence to support them.

"There are very, very low turnouts at elections and it is reasonable we should debate it," he said. "But I don't want anybody to feel forced to do anything if they have specific evidence of problems."

Mr Leslie said returning officers were confident they could manage to arrange postal ballots in the timescale for the elections on June 10 and the Royal Mail and police were committed to it. And he said the method would be made easy for the public to understand with colour-coded ballot papers and explanatory leaflets.

But Bradford politician Mohammed Riaz, a prospective Conservative European parliamentary candidate for Yorkshire and the Humber, said 30 per cent of Asian people in parts of Bradford would return votes for candidates they did not really want in a postal system. He said they would come under pressure from friends and family to vote in certain ways.

Conservative local government spokesman David Curry, MP for Skipton, said the minister had gone against the wishes of Yorkshire's returning officers who had also said they did not want a postal ballot.

Bradford Council's deputy leader Coun Simon Cooke said meetings would be held over the next few days to see what representations could be made on Mr Leslie's plan.