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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 October, 2003, 22:49 GMT 23:49 UK
Seats slip from BNP control
Liberal Democrat candidate Martin Smith celebrates victory
In both cases the Liberal Democrats took the seats
The far-right British National Party has lost two council by-elections in northern England.

The Liberal Democrats won both seats, on Burnley Borough Council in Lancashire and Calderdale Council in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

In the election for the Lanehead ward of Burnley, John Cave failed to hold on to a BNP seat after his colleague Luke Smith resigned.

In Halifax, the BNP's Heath Clegg's hopes of joining two fellow party representatives already holding seats on the council were dashed.

'Flabbergasted'

Mr Cave was beaten resoundingly into third place in Burnley by the Liberal Democrats' Martin Smith. Julie Cooper came second for the Labour Party.

It is the first seat the BNP has lost in Burnley since coming to prominence there 18 months ago.

BURNLEY RESULTS
Martin Smith (Lib Dem): 1,070 votes
Julie Cooper (Lab): 464 votes
John Cave (BNP): 357 votes
The party briefly became the town's official opposition in May after adding five council seats to the three it won in 2002, though it lost that title to the Liberal Democrats in June.

Its councillor Luke Smith was suspended from the party in August, following a brawl at its Red White and Blue festival. He then resigned from the council, prompting the by-election.

Martin Smith said he was "absolutely flabbergasted" to have taken the seat.

Luke Smith celebrates winning Burnley's Lanehead ward for the BNP
Luke Smith: colleague failed to keep his seat
"I have fought this election for the people of Lanehead and the people of Burnley," he said.

"We are going to be, as Liberal Democrats, the party that people should vote for to keep the BNP out and have a protest vote against Labour.

"We want to improve the town for everybody that lives in Burnley."

'Thrilled'

Meanwhile in Calderdale, Mr Clegg was defeated by Liberal Democrat candidate Jennifer Pearson, whose husband Stephen died in August, prompting the by-election.

Mrs Pearson took 1,210 votes against Mr Clegg's 801.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," said Mrs Pearson.

"This is confirmation of what happened in May and I'm absolutely delighted.

"I think the BNP has reached their limits. We ran a very strong campaign and the Labour Party simply faded away. It shows we are the party to stop the BNP."


SEE ALSO:
Suspended BNP councillor fights back
19 Aug 03  |  Lancashire
BNP councillor resigns over fight
22 Aug 03  |  Lancashire
BNP becomes Burnley's second party
02 May 03  |  Lancashire


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