Opposition rises after BNP meeting

A WAVE of opposition to the British National Party has swelled in Ipswich since the Evening Star revealed the party was holding undercover rallies in the town.

A WAVE of opposition to the British National Party has swelled in Ipswich since the Evening Star revealed the party was holding undercover rallies in the town.

Council leaders and opposition groups to the far-right have gone on the offensive since it was revealed British National Party leader Nick Griffin spoke at an Ipswich rally as part of a bid to target Suffolk voters.

Now it has emerged the Rushmere St Andrew Village Hall meeting of the so-called 'wargames society' was intended for council-owned Rushmere Resource Centre.

And shocked council officials have confirmed the secretive group had met in the centre on at least one past occasion.

But council leader Bryony Rudkin vowed to try and prevent any repetition of the May 21 meeting.

And she thanked The Evening Star for our work in unearthing the shadowy movements of the far-right political party.

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She said: "I would like to stress how completely opposed we are to what the BNP stands for.

"No part of the council would accept a booking from them if they had come along in their true colours.

"We are absolutely committed to equality in every aspect, right across the county.

"The fact they acted in such a dishonest way exposes them for what they truly are.

"I'm very grateful to The Evening Star, this shows we have to be more vigilant in future.

"We need to be keeping a close eye on the activities of the BNP as their policies could not be more of an anathema to us.

"We can't vet everybody who wants to make a booking in a council-owned building, but we do need to be more vigilant."

BNP leader Nick Griffin said the secret meeting had been a success and justified the reason for the cloak-and-dagger operation.

He said: "It was good for a first formal meeting of Ipswich BNP. I spoke, we had a question and answer session and a collection - just a normal meeting really.

"We are growing as a party across the whole country in the run up to the European elections, where we will be standing for the England East seat among others.

"We reckon that we will easily get enough votes in Hertfordshire and Essex to win a seat, but we need to work hard in Suffolk and Norfolk to make sure we don't lose out.

"We do have problems booking halls, and it's an awful lot of hassle taking councils to court because they won't give us our democratic rights.

"It was local people at the event - it's understandable that our local political opponents don't like new kids on the block."

Mr Griffin also confirmed that he hopes to see BNP meetings held every two months in the Ipswich area but Ipswich Borough Council has warned BNP members not to look at its buildings as an alternative venue.

Deputy leader Councillor David Ellesmere said: "The BNP is an extremist organisation. It is no coincidence that where the BNP operate, incidents of racial harassment and violence increase.

"They actively seek to cause tension. Ipswich has traditionally had very good community relations and I am sure that if these people were to stand in any election they would be given short shrift by voters.

"They are not welcome in Ipswich."

BNP spokesman Dr Phill Edwards told the Evening Star Mr Griffin was delighted with the two-and-a-half meeting on Wednesday, which was attended by about 40 Suffolk members.

Dr Edwards said the BNP was not a racist or fascist party and was committed to offering Britain a democratic vote on whether to continue what he described as the "multi-racial experiment."

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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