The BNP and Independents have clashed over a parish poll on whether Morley should have a directly elected mayor.
Coun Robert Finnigan, Morley Borough Independents leader, attacked the BNP for their support of a poll while Mike Mee, the BNP member who seconded the call for a parish poll, has hit back. Speaking at Morley Town Council's last full meeting, Coun Finnigan said: "This is not about democracy, it is personal. It is a vindictive attack on the Mayor of Morley, Coun Terry Grayshon, driven by homophobic elements that always have a home with the BNP."
He launched his attack after Coun Joanna Beverley (BNP, Elmfield) said she would not support a resolution proposed by Coun Tom Leadley (MBI, Scatcherd) saying the town council opposed a parish poll about a directly elected mayor. She said she was supporting democracy.
On June 30 a parish meeting was held where it was decided, on the votes of 14 people, a request would go to Leeds City Council asking for a poll into whether voters in the town wished to elect their mayor.
At the meeting of the town council on July 9 all the councillors except Coun Beverley voted to express the council's disapproval of spending £14,000 of town council money on a poll followed by £36,000 for a mayoral election, followed by a further £18,000 to hold an election every year. After the meeting, Mike Mee, who had at the parish meeting seconded the call for a parish poll, hit back at Robert Finnigan.
He said: "Robert Finnigan decided to launch a ridiculous attack on the BNP. He tried to claim the moves to deliver democracy by electing a mayor were simply a nasty BNP plot, aimed at getting rid of Terry Grayshon just because he is gay. This is a disgraceful and frankly pathetic line for Robert Finnigan to pursue."
He added: "Regarding the allegations of homophobia, neither myself nor anyone from the BNP in Morley or further afield has ever attacked Terry Grayshon for being gay. For Finnigan to bring this up smacks of utter desperation, and appears to be a rather blatant attempt to impose some kind of victim status on his party."
When contacted by the Observer and Advertiser, Coun Grayshon, who was on his way to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, said: "It hasn't been an issue since 2000 when the town council started but as soon as I become mayor it seems to be a big issue, so it is up to people to make their minds up about what is behind this."
Defending his attack on the BNP, Coun Finnigan said: "Don't judge the BNP by their words, judge them by what they do."
Morley Observer and Advertiser