A former council candidate could be barred from town hall meetings if an application for a county court injunction is successful. Borough council chiefs in Burnley have formally applied for a court order which would prevent British National Party member John Rowe, 52, from attending the local authority’s meetings in future.
The announcement comes as Rowe, of Tennis Street, Burnley, was convicted of causing criminal damage to a fire alarm at the town hall in May. Following the incident, a Burnley full council meeting had to be temporarily suspended as councillors, officers and Mayor, Coun Ida Carmichael, had to be evacuated from the town hall.
Rowe, then of Cowper Street, was originally issued with an £80 fixed penalty notice regarding the offence, which he refused to pay. As a result he was summonsed to appear before Burnley magistrates where he pleaded not guilty to the offence. But he was convicted after a trial and conditionally discharged for 12 months and ordered to pay £200 costs.
Rowe failed to appear in court on one occasion and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was detained by police while attending another Burnley full council meeting. He also attempted to attend a subsequent full council meeting in October but was turned away at the town hall entrance by police.
The council meeting disruption was condemned at the time by police and council chief executive Steve Rumbelow.
Court officials have confirmed that Rowe, who unsuccessfully stood as a BNP candidate in Rosegrove with Lowerhouse in 2007, intends to appeal against the magistrates’ verdict. But it has now emerged that council officials are taking legal steps to permanently exclude him from town hall meetings.
A Burnley council spokesman said: “We are in the process of applying for an interim injunction against Mr Rowe.”
For the hearing, later this year, Mr Rowe is understood to have called a number of witnesses, including council leader Coun Gordon Birtwistle.
Mr Rowe was unavailable for comment last night.