Sunday 15 November 2009

BNP ditches Blackpool

THE British National Party has moved away from Blackpool for its annual conference, which takes place today.
The controversial far-right party has held the event at the New Kimberley Hotel, on South Promenade, for the past three years.

But sources revealed today's conference is taking place in Hindley Green, near Wigan.

BNP bosses have been tight-lipped about where this year's event would be held - saying only it would be in "the North West" and they were unable to confirm whether or not it would be in Blackpool.

Earlier this year the party held a celebration event in Blackpool after its leader Nick Griffin was successfully voted in as North West MEP in June.

At the time, the BNP said it would be holding its annual conference in the resort.

However, Paul Jenkins, from the protest group Unite Against Fascism, said: "We've had it confirmed from a number of sources, including the police the event will take place near Wigan.

"The UAF will be protesting at 12pm, outside The Body Image Fitness Centre, on Swan Lane, Hindley Green."

Blackpool Gazette
14 November 2009

Friday 13 November 2009

Demonstrate against the fascist BNP's 'conference' in Wigan

Demonstrate against the fascist BNP's 'conference' in Wigan
Saturday 14th November, 12noon
Meet outside the Swan Hotel 737 Atherton Road, Hindley Green, Wigan, WN2 4SB
Click on image to see it full-size
We have been informed that the BNP's conference will take place this year in Hindley Green, near Wigan at the Body Image Fitness Centre on Swan Lane. This confirms other reports we have had.

North West UAF is calling a demonstration tomorrow - Saturday 14th November at Hindley Green. Please meet 12.00 noon, Saturday 14th November outside the Swan Hotel, Atherton Road, Hindley Green.

It is very important that the fascist BNP do not get away with holding this conference with no protest outside. Please do your very best to attend, and bring members of your local anti-fascist group/trade union/faith group etc. Please bring banners, placards and whistles and be sensible going to and from the demo.

Mystery of BNP venue

THE BNP has refused to release details of where its conference will begin tomorrow.
It is believed the event will be staged in Blackpool, but the party will only confirm the date and that it will be held in the North West.

The event has been hosted by the New Kimberley Hotel, South Promenade, for the past three years.

Hotel bosses have refused to say if it will be held there tomorrow, but earlier this year management did say they would be prepared to cater for the event.

Police say they have not been made aware of the location of the conference – which will be taking place on the same day as soldiers from 12 Regiment Royal Artillery are welcomed home to the resort from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, with a special parade and service.

A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said: "Our events and planning department has not been made aware of the location of the BNP conference this weekend."

The Unite Against Fascism North West group said it believed the conference was due to take place in Blackpool, but was not aware of the exact location.

Paul Jenkins, regional organiser, said: "In previous years, it has been held at the New Kimberley but we do not know if this is the case again this time.

"We have heard a few rumours, but nothing substantial at the moment."

Local BNP organiser James Clayton told The Gazette the venue was being 'kept under wraps'.

He said: "The conference is this weekend, but I cannot confirm whether it is in Blackpool or not.

"As far as I know, it will be held somewhere in the North West. I don't even know where it is being held yet."

Earlier this year, the BNP said it would definitely be holding its next conference in the resort, after its 'victory rally' took place at the New Kimberley in June.

The controversial right wing party was celebrating its success at the European Parliament elections.

Extra police were drafted in as anti-fascist groups held a protest outside the South Promenade hotel.

BNP leader Nick Griffin was elected as North West MEP in June.

Blackpool Gazette
13 November 2009

Thursday 12 November 2009

Twin town racism row

A FYLDE councillor has been branded "racist" after voicing opposition to plans to twin Lytham and St Annes with a town in Japan.
Coun Barbara Pagett is furious at the proposal by Lytham St Annes Twinning Association to form a link with the town of Hayashima.

In a widely circulated email, she urged backers of the scheme to be "sensitive to the feelings of those with longer memories".

Coun Pagett wrote: "I realise that by voicing my opinion in public regarding twinning that I lay myself open to being labelled bigot or racist by some people. However, I do have the right to say what I think and I'm neither being racist nor bigoted.

"It might be 63 years since the theatre of operations in the Far East during the Second World War ended, but I believe it's not yet long to forget what happened there.

"I would urge those promoting twinning with a Japanese town to sensitive to the feelings of those with longer memories."

She said her stance stemmed from the experience of a family friend who she claims was tortured in Burma by the Japanese.

Coun Pagett added: "In some years time, will the families and friends of those serving in present conflicts want to twin with somewhere in Iraq or Afghanistan? I think not."

But Coun Barbara MacKenzie, chairman of the Lytham St Annes Twinning Association, who recently visited Hiyashima with her husband and has hosted the town's mayor in St Annes, said the claims made her "ashamed to be British".

"It's ridiculous," she said. "The people in Japan made my husband and I so welcome and are so polite, friendly and lovely.

"They would like students to be able to come over and get a taste of English culture as well has having the chance to speak with people who have English as their first language to help their studies.

"I didn't realise there would be such opposition and to be honest it makes me ashamed to be British.

"I think it's un-Christian, racist and if Britain was to fall out with every country they had ever been at war with we would not be friends with any countries."

Coun MacKenzie pointed out St Annes is already twinned with Werne in Germany.

Coun Susan Fazackerley, cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said: "The opinion provided by the councillor about the proposal for St Annes is a personal opinion and does not represent the opinion of Fylde Council."

The proposals are at a very early stage. The Lytham St Annes Twinning Association is in initial discussions with their opposites in Hayashima.

Blackpool Gazette
12 November 2009

Thursday 15 October 2009

Inside view on the BNP

Cleveleys residents that the BNP turned away because of the colour of their skin
BURLY security staff in heavy, black coats guard the door while police pace outside the Frank Townend Centre in Cleveleys.
It's not the usual midweek sight outside the Beach Road community centre where children go for dance classes and ladies meet for art and craft sessions.
But it's not every night the BNP holds a rally in the quaint seaside town. And it's certainly not often the press get invited to see what goes on
behind those well guarded doors.
So when Clive Jefferson, North West BNP regional organiser, ushered me into their meeting room, I was quite taken aback.
Going inside, I pass a passionate group of anti-fascist protesters waving placards and shouting.
One protester, Jane from Blackpool Trades Union Council told me: "We will fight wherever the BNP stand. If we stand together, we will oppose them quicker."
Then there's an army of bouncers, wearing BNP badges, to negotiate.
I join around 40 people – BNP members and invitees – who have turned up to listen to the party's policies and their plans to form a branch in Wyre.
Stood in front of a large banner proclaiming "British jobs for British workers" with a Union Jack flag beside him Mr Jefferson said: "We are a legitimate party, we have a right to hold a meeting here. We want British jobs for British workers. We want the troops out of Iraq."
The audience – a few women but mainly men in their 50s and 60s – burst into applause.
But what about their ideas for Cleveleys?
James Clayton, candidate for next week's Jubilee ward by-election, said: "The major problems are anti-social behaviour and drug use in Cleveleys, needles being found on the Promenade, mess in the roads, grass cuttings and street lighting.
"A lot of people have shown interest in our party and this is our chance to show ourselves for who we are, which isn't the skinhead or thugs and yob image."
One member offers me a drink as he says: "We're not intimidating are we? We get a lot of bad press but we're not thugs."
But I don't like what I hear next as around six people put their hands up to request an application form to become a BNP member. One convert shouts: "I'll have an application form, but not a coloured one!"
It was greeted with laughter by most in the audience, and was a deeply unpleasant reminder of where I was. I had a distinctly uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
While inside the building the recruitment drive was in full flow, it was a different story outside as four people got turned away. All were either black or Asian. There were no members of the ethnic minorities inside.
As I left a security guard told me: "After a while it was getting full up so we decided it had to be members only."
Strange that, as I was given a seat all to myself and I'm not a member. And I swear there was plenty of space.
Madhvi Chabba-Moudgil, 35, from St Annes, was one of those turned away, along with partner Vishal Moudgil and brother SK Chabba.
She said: "Allowing a party that only allows certain people to join only goes towards a breakdown of relationships between all sections of the community and further leads to spoil the good work of people who work towards integration and good relations between different communities and classes of society. In this day and age, for a society of this kind to require police presence at a community centre, is a very sad statement in humanity. What hope is there for integration of society?"
Stephen Howard, 32, who is black and from Cleveleys, who was also turned away, said: "When I asked why, they said: 'what does BNP stand for?'"
The refusals put Bernie Naughton off from going inside. The 42-year-old from Poulton said: "I came down to hear their opinions but then I saw they were not letting Stephen in I changed my mind."
Around seven police officers were outside to make sure the rally and protest passed off peacefully. Supt Richard Spedding said officers would be looking into the circumstances surrounding people being refused entry. He then praised protesters, including those from Unite Against Fascism, Lancaster Unity and Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Trades Union Council, for how they behaved during their demonstration.
Anti-fascist campaigners are planning a protest in London against the BNP leader's presence on BBC One's Question Time on October 22. Black writer Bonnie Greer will take part in a televised debate with far right party leader Nick Griffin. They will be joined by Justice Secretary Jack Straw – the first senior Labour politician to say that he was willing to appear on the show with Mr Griffin.
* The other candidates for the Jubilee by-election are: Roy Hopwood representing the UK
Independence Party, Wayne Martin for Labour and Tory David Walmsley.

Source: Fleetwood Weekly News
15 October 2009

BNP shows its true colours at Cleveleys

Four potential new members turned away, one driven off by overt racism and a Griffinless meeting that never really started

The BNP meeting held at the Frank Townend Community Centre at Cleveleys last night has all the hallmarks of legend. Not because it was well-attended because it wasn't - only thirty to thirty-five turned up at most. In fact, all we anti-fascist protestors saw from our clear view of the door was the usual old guard of the local BNP - local being all the members the local groups could muster up from as far afield as Carlisle and Penrith.

The only potential new member we spotted was a boy of about seven who was being dragged along by someone we can only hope was his father. This poor little sod was hauled past us twice, presumably in the hope that someone on our side would go insane and hit him with a brick but despite the obvious provocation Dad was disappointed and eventually scowled his way back into the Community Centre. Junior's probably the BNP's newest recruit now.

Despite the short notice around sixty anti-fascists turned out to protest against the BNP being allowed to use the Centre to spread their fascist views around. Many of you will know that we attempted to have the meeting cancelled on the grounds that the BNP is racist and divisive, but we were hindered by the actions of the Chief Executive of Wyre Borough Council Jim Corry, who ignored any complaints, stating that the BNP is a registered political party and must therefore have access to all the facilities that are provided to the other parties. Mr Corry might care to check out the regulations regarding the hire of public facilities to political parties because one of the rules is that;
'the meeting must be open to all members of the public, and not restricted to ticket holders or members only'
This rule is pretty easy to understand - even for the BNP - so it came as something of a shock to a small group of people when they were refused admittance on the grounds that they were not members of the party. When they very politely offered to join the BNP on the spot, they were informed that there were no membership forms on the premises and turned away. Strangely, they were not asked for their names or contact numbers. But then, they were Asian.

Similarly, a young man who came over for a chat with us, also attempted to attend the meeting but was stopped at the door. There was no messing about asking for membership forms in his case - he was just told repeatedly that he couldn't go in until he gave up and left. Oh yes, he was black.

There was even worse in store for the BNP. Not only did Nick Griffin (and apparently another speaker) cancel on them, delaying the beginning of the meeting (due to start at 7pm) until around 7.45pm, but the only would-be attendee we spoke with was a man who came for a chat with us before heading inside. He had obviously given the BNP some thought and was intending to go to the meeting just to hear what was said. On his way in, he was stuck behind the black guy who was bluntly refused entry. He stopped for a chat with him, both of them then watching the fiasco with the three Asian people who wanted to attend. Disgusted at the clear racism that he had witnessed for himself, he came over to us, explained why he was going and left, getting a round of applause from us for being a man with principles.

Annoyed at all this, Clive Jefferson, the BNP's North West Regional Organiser (the one with the dodgy number-plates on his car), took loads of photographs of us then complained to the police that we were taking photographs of him, before stomping back into the Centre in a huff, barging through Blackpool's idiot-in-chief Roy Goodwin en route.

All in all a productive and interesting demo, with people attending from Lancaster, Barrow and Blackpool, as well as loads of Cleveleys' folk and a lot of youngsters who eventually joined in (and told us where the nearest decent pub was, tut-tut).

We'll leave the last word to Clive Grunshaw, the Labour group leader on Wyre Borough Council and Labour's prospective Parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

'It is extremely disappointing that Wyre Council sanctioned a political rally by the BNP at a community centre that will be used as the main polling station in a Council by-election to be held on 22nd October. The excuse that the BNP is a legitimate political party and should be treated the same as any other political party is, at best, dubious.

Wyre Council was under no obligation to permit the rally to take place and indeed had they consulted their own policies on equality and diversity it would be hard to see how they square with a political party that espouses racist and homophobic hatred and intolerance?

The BNP claim that they have a democratic right to freedom of expression. However with the right to free speech comes responsibility. They should not be allowed to incite hatred and violence against other members of our community - they too have rights!

I was however heartened by a marvellous turnout of demonstrators from the UAF, Blackpool Trades Council and the local community who certainly made their voices heard! The demonstration was organised at very short notice and was a credit to all concerned.'

Thank you, Clive, and bravo to all who were able to turn out at hardly any notice. :-)

Source: Lancaster Unity

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Fury at BNP rally in community centre

Protesters gathered outside the Frank Townend Community Centre in Cleveleys
EMOTIONS ran high as more than 60 people staged a protest against the BNP as the far right party held a rally at a Cleveleys community centre.
The protesters waved placards and shouted as BNP supporters went inside the Frank Townend Centre on Beach Road last night.

Police were drafted in to prevent trouble flaring outside as around 40 people arrived at the meeting to hear from James Clayton, BNP candidate in Wyre Council's forthcoming Jubilee ward by-election.

Four people were turned away at the door.

Stephen Howard, 32, from Cleveleys, who was one of those refused entry, said: "I wanted to go in just to see what their opinions were but I'm not allowed in.

"I was born here, I pay my taxes, I have a happy family – is there any reason I shouldn't be there? It's ignorance, they are uneducated."

Mr Clayton, who spoke in the meeting about forming a Wyre branch of the BNP, said non-members were turned away because the meeting room "was at full capacity".

He said: "The meeting is for supporters we have invited. With this being a new group, people who have enquired about the party have been invited."

Local protesters were joined by members of the North West Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and Lancaster Unity and unions.

Labour group leader Coun Clive Grunshaw, who last week called for Wyre Council to refuse the BNP permission to hold the rally at the council-owned centre, was also there.

He said: "They are a racist party. They should not be allowed to organise meetings in the centre."

And Jain Gawne, who runs Blackpool and Fleetwood UAF, said: "The community centre should be for the whole community, no matter what their colour or religion, and not for groups who are racist. "

But Mr Clayton defended the BNP and said they were now a legitimate political party.

He added: "The protesters have got a right to be there, but it's the same old lines and the same old hysteria. A lot of these people will not be from the local area, they will be from Manchester and Lancaster University."

Source: Blackpool Gazette