A hustings meeting ahead of a by-election has been axed amid objections to some candidates being invited.
The nine candidates standing for the vacant Enfield Council seat in Bush Hill Park had been invited to a question and answer session next week ahead of the poll. But the Bush Hill Park Residents Association, which was organising the session, has pulled the plug amid fears of protests and political bias.
The British National Party have entered a candidate – London organiser Steve Squire – for the first time in Bush Hill Park, but Labour candidate Ivor Wiggett is understood to have refused to share the platform with him under party policy. Objections were also raised to Christian Party representative Clive Morrison being invited, owing to alleged inflammatory comments made during his bid for the Edmonton Parliamentary seat last year.
Tony Kingsnorth, chairman of the association, said they were worried about the event being beset by protests outside and decided to call it off. The issue has been further complicated as Mr Kingsnorth is a candidate himself, standing as an independent, with vice chairman John Jewson running his campaign. This meant organising the debate would have to fall to other members of the committee, and the association did not want to risk being political by holding the event.
Paul Smith, the Lib Dem candidate, expressed his disappointment at the debate's cancellation on his blog, saying: “To be clear, the Lib Dems will appear at such events regardless of who else is on the platform because we believe that voters are drawn to fringe and extreme parties primarily because the major parties are seen as ignoring them. Get out onto the doorstep, meet these voters at hustings and they are given the voice they want and deserve and they can see how false the arguments from the extremists are.”
The BNP has never contested Bush Hill Park before, but Mr Squire is believed to have entered as a test in Enfield ahead of next year's London Assembly elections to see how the party fares.
Polling day is Thursday, July 28, with the result expected the day after.