BOLTON has backed out of a scheme to trial new voter ID measures at polling stations.

Councillors voted in April to support a Conservative-led motion calling on the town hall to put itself forward as a pilot authority to increase security at polling booths by requiring voters to provide proof of identity at the next local elections.

But the council has now told the Cabinet Office that it is withdrawing its name from consideration for the pilot, citing concerns that some residents without the required form of ID would be ‘denied their right to vote’.

The change of heart has sparked anger from Bolton’s Tory leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, who is unhappy that the town hall has disregarded the vote taken by elected members.

He said: “I am furious that, at the last minute, Bolton has withdrawn, citing as their main reason for withdrawal that if voters could not produce the relevant proof of identification, they would not be allowed to vote.

“Sorry, but is that not the reason for having voter ID? If you let people vote regardless, what is the point?”

A council spokesman said: “There are a number of restrictive conditions as part of the pilot scheme, which we felt would cause real problems for voters at the elections and for the returning officer.

“Firstly, the type of ID required would be specified by the Cabinet Office, secondly the pilot had to cover the whole of the borough and thirdly, without their ID, residents would be unable to vote.

“We were concerned that a certain percentage of our residents may not have the required ID and therefore we would be denying them their right to vote.

“After discussions with the Cabinet Office, they understood and agreed with our withdrawal from being considered for the pilot scheme.

“Only five councils in the UK are now involved in the pilot scheme.”

Cllr Greenhalgh, who was informed of the decision by council chief executive Margaret Asquith, added: “There was a real opportunity here for Bolton to address the issue of electoral fraud, an issue that is of real concern to many residents. It is not acceptable that a vote was taken and passed at full council with cross-party support to put Bolton forward for this pilot, and now that decision has been altered behind closed doors.”