Moves to install a BNP member on the board of governors at a primary school have been blocked by councillors.
The far-right party had suggested that councillor Anthony Simmonds join the board of governors at Park Hall Primary School, in Weston Coyney. Mr Simmonds is ward councillor for the Weston and Meir North ward. But the coalition of Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, the largest group on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, put forward an alternative candidate in former councillor Derek Bamford.
The decision was put to a full council vote, which rejected Mr Simmonds's nomination by 37 votes to 16 and handed the post to Mr Bamford. Councillor Simmonds said his nomination had been blocked on purpose. He said: "The other councillors are trying to stop us in any way they can. Education is very important to me. Park Hall primary is in my ward and I wanted to be a governor. At the last minute the coalition parties put Bamford forward. I would have liked to have been governor because my two nephews go to that school. But because I'm a member of the BNP I get tarred with the same brush as other people."
BNP leader Alby Walker said he had expected the other councillors to block his party's nomination. He said: "We fully expected what happened. But what we didn't expect was that the main coalition parties wanted it to be a named vote. I think this was to make sure that the Conservative members were too scared to vote for us openly. Not many people want to be a school governor, because it is a thankless job. But Anthony did want the job because the school is in his ward.
"When I found out there was going to be a counter-nomination, I asked Anthony if he wanted to withdraw his, as we expected he would be blocked. He said he didn't want to do that. We have at least two other councillors serving as school governors. The other parties have now obviously decided to try to block each of our nominations by submitting their own. That's the nature of politics. I have nothing against any of them personally, but politically we are sworn enemies."
Mr Bamford, who lost his seat to the BNP in 2006, said he had not been aware anyone else wanted the governor position. He said: "It's up to the council to decide who they want as their representative on the board. I was put forward as a nomination, and I didn't realise anyone else had been as well. Since I lost my seat I have remained very interested in children's services, and the school governor position gives me an ability to maintain that interest. I have no objections from anyone of any party standing as a governor, but at the end of the day it's up to full council to decide who they want."