The local Labour party in Bury has suspended one of their councillors, Tamoor Tariq, and Manchester police are investigating following the discovery of a series of confidential electoral documents dumped in Brandlesholme.
The local newspaper lists the items as including,
Election canvas sheets containing hundreds of names and addresses of Redvales residents and details of how they intended to vote at the last election — postal General Election ballot papers — a confidential letter from the Governors of the Derby High School — documents and letters addressed to Cllr Tariq at his home in Gigg Lane, Bury — unopened letters addressed to another occupant of the same address — Ibruprofen drugs prescribed to Mr Tariq’s brother, Qasim Tariq.
Cllr Tariq has apologised, saying he was not responsible for the dumping but that he had failed to take proper care of the items.
Some of the items look to be caused by careless post-election tidying up, such as the election canvass sheets. If the reports are accurate, the discovery of “postal General Election ballot papers” is in a completely different class as a councillor should not be in possession of such documents in the first place beyond their own possible postal ballot paper. It is possible that a more innocent set of documents, such as blank postal vote application forms, have been mis-described as similar sorts of confusion have appeared in media reports over the years.
The police investigation will clarify that, but even if the more innocent explanation turns out to be true, the case is a healthy reminder of the need for anyone involved in an election campaign to properly dispose of documents after the campaign, including canvass cards, knocking up sheets and other records with personal data.
My own tip for that is that if you deal with large volumes of such paperwork get a good quality shredder. Shredders are the sorts of devices where extra money buys extra capacity and reliability. Personally I have had several years good service out of the Swordfish 1000XCD. It neatly fits under my desk, works well and has the bonus feature of being able to destroy CDs. Investing a bit extra in getting this more powerful shredder rather than a cheaper one has turned out well in terms of saved time and reduced number of jams.