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Hampstead and Kilburn disabled voter turned away as polling station wheelchair access closed

PUBLISHED: 15:48 08 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:16 08 June 2017

Josephine Maxwell, pictured with her dog, Honey, was denied her right to vote.

Josephine Maxwell, pictured with her dog, Honey, was denied her right to vote.

Archant

An amputee said she feels “degraded” after being blocked from voting – as officials refused to open the only entrance at her polling station which has disabled access.

Josephine Maxwell who is wheelchair-bound, has already tried twice to exercise her right to vote, but has not yet managed.

The 79-year-old went to her polling station at the Oxford Kilburn club in Denmark Road, but discovered that the front entrance – which has ramps and full disabled access – was closed.

Other voters are entering the station through a side entrance – but as a wheelchair user, Josephine has been unable to do the same.

Brent Council say they’ve made the building accessible for wheelchair users, after being contacted by our paper.

The polling station was supposed to be open and accessible from 7am this morning but Brent Council was only able to confirm it was accessible around 3pm today – meaning other disabled voters could have been turned away.

The first time Josephine tried to vote, at 8.50am this morning, she was left outside in the rain.

One of the voting officials said that they would get someone to help her enter – but they never returned and Josephine left.

Josephine returned once again with her daughter, Sue Carroll, around 1pm, but once again she was unable to enter the station.

Officials first of all tried to bring out a small platform for the side entrance so that Josephine could wheel onto it, in order to access the station, but the platform was not big enough for the wheelchair.

They then asked if Josephine wanted to vote outside the polling station, but she refused, as it would not have been in a private polling booth – a place everyone in the country is entitled to vote in.

Josephine, who has lived in Kilburn for 50 years, told the Ham&High: “I’m really disgusted. I don’t think they (Brent Council) should be able to get away with that. I’m not the only person in a wheelchair who must not have been able to vote.

“I really am upset. It’s my basic right. I should be allowed to vote.”

She added: “I feel degraded.”

Josephine believes other people might have been blocked from voting and everyone should be able to vote at their convenience.

After being contacted by our paper at approximately 2.20pm, Brent Council has now said that it has found a solution.

A Brent Council spokesman said: “The issue involving the elector who was not able to vote earlier today has now been resolved. We urge her to return to the polling station before 10pm today and make herself known to the presiding officer.”

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