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Friday, 17 May, 2002, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
BNP councillors run gauntlet of abuse
David Edwards, left and Carole Hughes, right won their seats in May
Edwards and Hughes celebrate their election victory
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Jim Hancock
BBC North West Political Editor

British National Party councillors in Burnley have been given 12 places on the council's committees.

At the first meeting of the new administration since May's elections, the three councillors had to run the gauntlet of 50 anti-Nazi demonstrators as they entered Burnley Town Hall.

The move was criticised by Anti-Nazi League spokeswoman Julie Waterson who said Labour councillors were breaking a pledge to have nothing to do with the BNP.

On police advice the public were banned from the meeting.

A council spokesman said the hall's small balcony could not accommodate the potential numbers wanting to attend.

As it turned out, Thursday night's meeting was uneventful.

Left alone

Council leader Stuart Caddy said they had to listen to the 10,000 people in the town who had voted for the BNP and he said the issues facing Burnley were not about black versus white, but about deprivation.

We are looking at society in Burnley, we need to sort out the cultural problems really - that's it.

David Edwards, BNP councillor
He welcomed a government decision made earlier on Thursday to invest 2.66m in east Lancashire housing.

None of the BNP councillors spoke during the evening and afterwards their leader on the council David Edwards said they wanted to be left alone to get on with the job of representing people.


When pressed on how they would implement policies they had campaigned on during the election such as white-only taxi drivers and a ban on the development of mosques in Burnley, Councillor Edwards said that would be difficult.

He said: "We are looking at society in Burnley, we need to sort out the cultural problems really - that's it."

But he could not be specific about other policies.

The meeting came on the day council staff in Burnley said they did not want to work alongside the BNP.

Up to 40 of about 700 workers at the town hall are Asian and since the elections, some members of the public sector union Unison have expressed reservations about working alongside extremist politicians.

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

BNP councillor David Edwards
"Things depend on what the BNP want to stand for"

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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