Concerns raised over handling of 1,000 postal votes in Pendle local election

Concerns over the handling of 1,000 postal in the latest Pendle Council election have been raised by two leading councillors.

Independent Coun Mohammed Iqbal, a former Labour councillor, and Lib-Dem Coun David Whipp have highlighted worries about ballots in the Bradley ward of Nelson.

Coun Iqbal was re-elected there last week. But in a motion to Pendle Council - a formal recommendation to be debated by councillors - he is calling for investigations by the UK Electoral Commission and extra powers to enable council officers to reject suspicious postal votes.

Both councillors say this is the second year concerns have been raised about postal votes in the Bradley ward. They have put forward a motion highlighting worries and calling for action at next week's full council meeting.

In the latest local election for Bradley, Mohammed Iqbal won with 1,665 votes. Conservative candidate Hassan Mahmood came second with 1,351 votes, according to council results.


Coun Iqbal was one of a number of ex-Labour councillors who stood as independents in protest over Labour's national stance on the Gaza conflict and claims that Labour had tried to 'gag' them from speaking their minds.

He and Coun Whipp's new joint motion firstly thanks Pendle Council staff for 'ensuring a smooth process'. But it adds: "The Elections Act 2022 makes it an offence for candidates or campaigners to handle postal ballot papers. Council [all elected councillors] notes with concern the unusual high number of postal vote returns in Bradley ward 48 hours before polling day.

"Council notes this is the second year running where over 1,000 postal votes were returned two or three days before polling day in Bradley ward."

Their motion recommends councillors to: "Ask Pendle Council's returning officer to write to the Electoral Commission, asking for an independent investigation by all authorities concerned to ensure no irregularities have

"Also write to the government, to introduce legislation giving returning officers the power to reject postal votes where suspicious harvesting or storage of postal votes is taking place in a particular area."

Pendle Council's next full meeting is on Thursday, May 16, at Nelson Town Hall. Business for the meeting will include formally deciding the new leader and deputy leader of the council. These are leading political roles filled by councillors based on support from different political groups.

Also to be confirmed is the new mayor and deputy mayor of Pendle. which are non-political roles.