THE British National Party has its first councillor in Kirklees.

Father-of-two David Exley last night won the Heckmondwike by-election with a majority of 114 votes.

He beat Lib Dem Tabasum Aslam into second place, with former Labour councillor Tim Crowther, standing as an Independent, in third place.

The turnout was remarkably high, at 43.8%.

But the election was greeted with anger and disappointment by other political leaders and there were angry scenes outside Batley Town Hall as the victorious candidate left.

Dozens of police clashed with demonstrators, who had been staging an anti-racism protest for three hours. One man was arrested.

The BNP were jubilant and Clr Exley, a former Conservative, said: "This is the start.

"I may be a lone voice now, but watch what happens next spring, when full council elections take place".

Political experts believe the victory will prompt the BNP to campaign even harder to make further inroads in Kirklees.

Likely target seats could include Thornhill, Mirfield and, possibly, Dalton.

Minutes after his election, Clr Exley spoke exclusively to the Examiner. He said: "I can make a difference. I will have no petty political restraints and I will work as hard as I can for the people of Heckmondwike.

"I am under no illusions. It is going to be hard. But people have put their trust in me and I will give them 110%".

The new councillor is 39 and married, the father of daughters aged six and 20 months.

Clr Exley said he spent years complaining about politics but did nothing. But he then decided it was time for action.

"The mood of the people I have seen in the election shows they want a change," he added.

"People say we are racists, but I detest racists. I have Asian friends, I have white friends.

"The idea of the BNP being a Nazi party is abhorrent. If the party moved that way I would walk away."

But his election was condemned by other council figures.

Council leader Clr Kath Pinnock said: "I am extremely disappointed that the people of Heckmondwike have narrowly missed out on electing an excellent Lib Dem candidate and that 25% have chosen a councillor who does not believe in fairness and can make only empty promises.

"We accept the democratic consequences of the election and I hope all 72 members of Kirklees Council will abide by our rules of courtesy."

Labour group leader Clr Mehboob Khan said: "The BNP made empty promises they will not be able to deliver, as they have failed in Calderdale and Burnley.

"They are divisive. The Labour Party will continue to work in Heckmondwike and across Kirklees for all people of all backgrounds."

Tory group leader Clr Robert Light said: "People have missed an opportunity to make a difference in Kirklees.

"The only party that could change things was the Conservatives. The BNP cannot deliver on the promises they made."

Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman attacked Mr Crowther for forcing the by-election and the Lib Dems for using personalities in their campaign.

He added: "I am horrified the BNP have a foothold in Kirklees. More than 4,000 people voted against them and they won with 1,600 votes.

"By-elections should be fought on policies and pledges, not personalities."

Clr Exley will be given seats on the Spen Valley Area Committee and the local housing management committee.

But the BNP cannot be recognised as a political group until the party has at least two members.


David Exley (BNP) .......................1607

Tabasum Aslam (Lib Dem) ........ 1493

Tim Crowther (Ind) .......................1147

*Florence Smith (Lab) ....................982

Roger Roberts (Con) .................... 490

Heidi Smithson (Green) .................. 76

BNP gain from Labour majority 114 % poll 43.8

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