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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
'Play cool' message for anti-BNP staff
BNP poster in Burnley
The far-right party campaigned hard in Burnley
Council staff in Burnley say they do not want to work alongside the British National Party.

Up to 40 of about 700 workers at the town hall - which on Thursday hosts its first council meeting since the election of three BNP councillors - are Asian.

Since the elections, some members of the public sector union Unison have expressed reservations about working alongside extremist politicians.

The Labour leader of the council, Stuart Caddy, has already said he will oppose the BNP.

One person I asked even said he voted BNP to protest about a 'hole in the road'

Stuart Caddy
Council leader

But Peter Thorne, Burnley branch secretary for Unison, said: "It is potentially very difficult, we do not want to play into BNP hands.

"But we will support anyone as best we can who does not want to work with them as a matter of conscience.

"I have had several members saying they do not want to work with these people, but at the moment our advice is to just wait and see, play it cool.

'Mixed messages'

"The council management team have said they would be sympathetic to these feelings, and would try to work around it."

But Mr Thorne, an IT worker at the council, admitted that some of his colleagues were likely to have voted BNP themselves.

Thursday's meeting takes place at 1900 BST.

Members of the authority will then be appointed to the various council committees.

David Edwards, Terry Grogan and Carol Hughes - the UK's only BNP councillors - are entitled to take a total of six committee places.

'Come clean'

Mr Caddy said: "They are giving mixed messages.

"The national party stood on racist issues - leaflets said they wanted to see white taxi drivers, and no more mosques built in Burnley.

"But the local councillors have said they are not racist and have Asian friends.

Anti-Nazi League
Organised demonstrations have taken place

"So they need to come clean, and we need to find out their policies.

"I will look forward to their comments in the chamber. Perhaps they should be independents.

"We need to keep peace and calm on the streets of Burnley and we have a responsibility to get the message across that this is not about racism but it is a protest vote.

"One person I asked even said he voted BNP to protest about a 'hole in the road'.

Code of conduct

"We have got to engage to make sure that protest does not come next year."

The three BNP councillors have already signed a code of conduct requiring respect and racial tolerance.

And the council is also due to debate the Race Relations Amendment Act 2002, which will lay a statutory duty on authorities to bring in race-equality schemes.

Click here to go to Lancashire
See also:

05 May 02 | England
Union monitors 'BNP menace'
04 May 02 | UK Politics
Campaigners march against BNP
03 May 02 | England
BNP shock for North
03 May 02 | UK Politics
Witnessing the BNP success
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