Complaint against council after lack of access ‘denied woman vote’

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The family of a woman who was reportedly unable to gain access to a polling station during the General Election has accused Brent Council of breaching electoral regulations and equality laws.

Josephine Maxwell, a wheelchair-bound amputee, failed to vote at Oxford Kilburn polling station (not pictured) after finding the front entrance, which has ramps and disabled access, was closed.

After finding she could not gain access, Ms Maxwell was reportedly told by polling station staff that someone would be fetched to help her but nobody returned.

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Ms Maxwell returned to the station later on and officials attempted to help her gain access with two pieces of metal for the side entrance but the solution failed to work.

According to a report by the Ham & High, Ms Maxwell was offered to vote outside of the station but declined as it was not a private booth.

The newspaper contacted the council which was able to confirm that the station was accessible around 3pm on election day.

In response to the complaint, a spokeswoman for Brent Council said: “We regret that that Ms. Maxwell experienced difficulty when she initially went to vote last Thursday. Our Presiding Officer followed the Electoral Commission guidance that if a voter is unable to gain access to a polling station, their ballot paper is brought to them. The issue of access to the polling station was later resolved, and we made every effort to contact Ms Maxwell to encourage her to return.”

Disabled campaigners expressed concerns regarding access at polling stations for the 2017 General Election after access problems at the 2015 election.

Tags : Compliancedisabled accessgeneral electionpolling stationregulation
Joe Peskett

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