The British National Party has lost its only council seat in Kent after Paul Golding resigned from Sevenoaks District Council. And it seems likely there will be no attempt to replace him at the upcoming May local elections.
The far-right party sprang a shock when it comfortably won Swanley St Mary’s ward in a 2009 by-election after a Labour councillor resigned. In doing so [Golding] became the first BNP councillor to be elected outside of London. Mr Golding, who was once expelled from the party for allegedly attacking its only ethnic minority councillor, said he resigned because he had moved out of the area and was no longer able to attend council meetings or work on behalf of residents.
According to the party’s south east regional director, the BNP is unlikely to field a replacement candidate in the May 5 elections.
John Underwood, a Labour councillor for St Mary’s ward, welcomed his decision to resign.
"He only attended three council meetings the whole year," he said. "He has completely disappeared. Yes I’m pleased in a way because we can get on and do our work. He was totally useless, he never accepted any committee posts and he only ever turned up when he felt like it. He was most critical about everyone else and could make offensive comments at times."
Mr Golding resigned on Monday with immediate effect. He said: "Basically I’ve moved out of the area and I can no longer carry out my duties. I cannot carry out the duties of a councillor on behalf of my constituents so I want to allow the seat to go to someone else. I did not want to carry on taking the money, the allowance, while I was not able to do any work."
Asked if he had felt any hostility while at the council because he represented the views of the far-right party, he said: "Not at all, all the council officials were always fair and friendly. The only hostility was from Labour councillors."
Mr Golding, former communication director for the BNP, would not say where he has moved to, but said he would continue as a south east regional fundraiser for the party.
Andy McBride, south east regional director for the BNP, said the party was unlikely to put forward another candidate to fight for the St Mary’s seat in the May 5 elections.
"We don’t have a meeting until Tuesday next week," he said. "County organisations will decide whether it is going to be viable. To win that seat was an anomaly. I’m not aware of any candidate at the moment. We are concentrating on reform and a major reworking of the party, getting rid of people who have caused us problems."
When Mr Golding snatched the St Mary’s seat it, was the first BNP victory in the south east outside London. At the time he said: "Young people in this ward have said they find it almost impossible to get a council house. All the council houses are given to foreigners and asylum seekers – that has got to stop."
Sevenoaks council’s Labour group leader Bryan Harrod said the party would be fighting hard to regain the sewith strong candidates. In response to Mr Golding’s departure, he said: "I don’t think he has been a very effective councillor. He only turns up at full council now and against so I don’t see how he can be putting forward the residents concerns.