May 15, 2007

BNP man joins council amid angry protest

Crowds gathered outside Corsham Town Hall last night to protest against BNP councillor Michael Simpkins taking up his rightful seat on the parish committee.

Residents clutching photos of black relatives and trade union members bearing banners shouted anti-BNP chants when Mr Simpkins arrived for the first full council meeting since the election.

Flanked by his close protection team, four BNP members dressed in black, the Rudloe councillor walked briskly through the protesters shouting something incomprehensible and disappeared into the council chamber. The chants of "Bad for you, bad for me, stop the racist BNP" followed him inside and the councillors around the table fell silent until the voices stopped.

As police officers outside looked on and the BNP bodyguards lingered inside the door, there was a clear and identifiable moment of stillness and reflection before chairman Allan Bosley called the meeting to a start.

Corsham residents Steph Cleverley, her 21-year-old son Kyle and their friend Gillian Fleming, came to protest against Mr Simpkins, who took his seat unopposed without winning any votes.

Mrs Fleming said: "Lots of people in Corsham think the way we feel but are afraid of the BNP. Everyone in this country is entitled to an opinion, including the BNP. We have lived here a long time and there has never been any problems. We have all lived together side by side in relative peace and I do not see why the BNP seeks to create divisions and hostility based upon a person's ethnicity."

Mrs Cleverley's grandfather Reginald Seymour Thornhill was one of the first generation of black people to move to Britain. She said: "We are proud of our history and heritage but simultaneously proud of our local community and place in the community of Corsham."

Mr Simpkins plans to work hard on the town council and represent the views of the people in his ward. He said: "There was no sense of animosity from my fellow councillors. The protesters were mainly from Bristol and they have a right to protest but why didn't they stand against me in the election? I was accompanied by a close protection team because there have been incidents in the past of lefties attacking BNP members in the street."

Asked whom he represented, Mr Simpkins said: "The BNP is a party for indigenous British people. Black, Asian, Chinese, Aborigine, Maori and Eskimo people cannot join."

Tim Lezard, who organised the protest, said: "Nobody voted for Mr Simpkins and therefore he does not represent anyone in Corsham. Local people have to stand up against fascists."

Gazette and Herald

No comments: