October 24, 2011

BNP row: Venue for Nick Griffin speech changed

A speech by British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin at a village hall in East Sussex has been moved following a row over the venue.

Mr Griffin had been due to speak at a private meeting at Baldslow Memorial Hall in St Leonards on Sunday evening. The BNP said the meeting would still go ahead, but that it would be held at an undisclosed location in Hastings.

Hastings Borough Council had threatened to cancel the hall's rate subsidy if it hosted the speech. The authority wrote to the people who run the hall telling them they would have to pay back £376 they received as a charity in rate relief, saying the meeting was "contrary to the interests of the community".

Leader of the Labour-run council, Jeremy Birch, said it was wrong for the people of Hastings to subsidise a charity "that's prepared to provide a platform to someone who is so completely opposed to the community harmony philosophy of this local authority".

He said the council had been contacted by local residents living in the area of the hall who were "very unhappy that their community centre was being used for this purpose to the extent that they offered to pay the booking fee to the charity if the BNP meeting didn't go ahead".

"I think we were acting appropriately, and it was unanimously approved by the council," Mr Birch said.

The BNP has described the move as an attack on free speech.

Speaking before the meeting on Sunday, Mr Griffin said he would be taken to the venue on arrival in Hastings by local BNP officials, but did not know where it was.

"As far as I know we were never going to use the hall... it's entirely up to our local people," he said.

The people who run Baldslow Memorial Hall have declined to comment on the issue.


1 comment:

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