BNP wins seat at Mixenden

THE first British National Party politician to be elected in Yorkshire took up his seat today on Calderdale Council.

Adrian Marsden, won the intensely fought Mixenden by-election by 28 votes after a nail-biting recount.

He becomes the fifth BNP councillor in the country - there are three in Burnley and one in Blackburn.

The result caused widespread dismay among his opponents who described it as a sad blow to Calderdale and its community relations.

When the result was announced at 11 pm yesterday, Coun Marsden refused to comment.

Victory march ... Adrian Marsden leaves the Town Hall with supporters

He swept out of Halifax Town Hall to the sound of "Rule Britannia" sung by nearly a hundred or so banner waving supporters gathered outside.

He was then whisked away in a white mini bus to celebrate elsewhere leaving a handful of Anti-Nazi League protestors and a large group of local and national reporters, photographers and TV cameramen in his wake.

Halifax Labour MP Alice Mahon watched the result unfold and said she was deeply disappointed.

"These sort of people peddle hurtful policies to try to cause division within the community - I refuse to accept that the voters of Mixenden are extremist but I'm deeply worried when this kind of party gets a foothold," she said.

She urged people not to be too downhearted at the result saying only one in 10 electors in Mixenden had actually voted for the British National Party and Labour would win the seat back again.Liberal Democrat candidate Stephen Pearson, who was runner-up, said: "We are extremely concerned that an openly racist and fascist party has won this election.

"The result sends out a very clear message in a climate where the news is dominated by asylum and immigration, and it is hardly surprising that so many people have been fooled into supporting simplistic ideas," he said.

Conservative candidate Stephen Baines, who was fourth behind Labour's Michael Higgins, said the result would not give the BNP much power in Calderdale.

"I believe in democracy and a democratic party accepted in this country has legally won this election."

The council's Conservative leader Coun John Ford (Skircoat) said the outcome was bound to be close.

"Most of what was put forward by the BNP was based on national not local issues and at the end of the day, that's what people voted on," he said.

Liberal Democrat leader Coun Michael Taylor (Calder Valley) said it was a sad day for Calderdale and there would be repercussions.

"It does not reflect well on our district - people will think we have joined Blackburn and Burnley - we will continue to fight racism in all its forms."

Independent Redmond Mellett said the main parties should have made way for him as the only candidate who actually lives in the Mixenden ward.

"This result is going to make a lot of people sit up and take notice and questions need to be asked but on Friday I will be back in Mixenden working for the residents," he said.

* The British National Party last fielded a candidate in the Calderdale Council elections in May 2000 when Christian Jackson stood in Todmorden ward and attracted 86 votes.

In 1999, Stuart Hall stood for the BNP in Mixenden and got 59 votes, Adrian Marsden stood in St John's ward and got 213, Christian Jackson 78 in Todmorden, Richard Mullhall in Illingworth received 103 votes and Rachel Clarke in Ovenden got 86.

Adrian Marsden (BNP)......679

Stephen Pearson (Lib/Dem).....651

Michael Higgins (Lab).....641

Stephen Baines (Con).....214

Redmond Mellett (Ind).....142


Percentage poll.....37.2

BNP gain from Labour