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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Poverty 'fuels BNP support'
Anti-Nazi League protestors at the election count in Burnley
The BNP's political success in Burnley sparked protests
Poverty has got so bad in Burnley it has led to the continuing rise of far-right political support, according to a union leader.

The GMB's Gary Jones has criticised local politicians for ignoring the issue and urged them to join with the union to ensure the problems are resolved.

Mr Jones, regional secretary of the union, made the announcement at the start of a campaign - "Time for Change in Burnley" - to promote integration in the town and support local businesses.

It comes after the British National Party (BNP) temporarily became the official opposition on Burnley Borough Council in May, before losing the position when they lost a by-election to the Lib-Dems.

On Thursday Mr Jones told a meeting that investing in the economy is the key to resolving the problems.

The council is making efforts to hear residents' views on a wide range of issues
Stuart Caddy, council leader
Mr Jones told BBC Radio Lancashire: "I honestly believe it's about time that Burnley Council and us work in partnership to relieve this economic strain that's been beared upon Burnley.

"I believe this is causing this move to the BNP."

Council leader Stuart Caddy said work was already being carried out to increase prosperity in the town, which included challenging racism.

The council's strategy aimed to bring communities together in a way that acknowledged their differences but urged them to work together towards a "common prosperity", he said.

'Council consultation'

In a statement, Mr Caddy said of the GMB's work: "We welcome positive efforts from any organisation to help tackle racism and to build up good community relations.

"The GMB state that many of their members feel disenfranchised by the political process.

"My answer to that would be to say that the council is making efforts to hear residents' views on a wide range of issues

"I'd ask trade union members, like other members of the community, to engage with that, to come along to council consultation events, and to make contact with their councillors and council officers."

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