July 28, 2008

BNP Waits in Hope for First N-E Seat

VOTES were being counted last night as The Northern Echo went to press in a byelection that could see the British National Party (BNP) win its first seat in the region.

The extreme right wing party is in contention for Great Aycliffe Town Council?s Simpasture ward, in County Durham, after Labour?s Margaret Atkinson resigned citing work commitments.

The BNP is hoping the popularity of its candidate, market trader Honest John Hilton, could see them take the seat.

Mr Hilton describes himself as a ?normal bloke? who enjoys smoking a pipe and spending time with his cat.

He faces opposition from Malcolm Iveson, a former Sedgefield borough councillor and Great Aycliffe town councillor and Lilleen Cuthbertson, who sits on Sedgefield Borough Council.

All three have been canvassing in the ward ahead of yesterday?s by-election and count ? which took place at Simpasture Gate care home.

Labour has been urging voters to use their votes amid fears the BNP could take the seat and are hoping for a repeat of May?s results.

During elections for the new County Durham unitary authority apparent BNP gains were quashed by increased voter turnout.

Relative BNP strongholds Chilton and Tudhoe returned 853 and 933 respectively for its two highest-polling candidates. However, BNP presence pushed Labour?s best performers up to 1,541, in Chilton, and 1,105, in Tudhoe, ensuring the BNP missed out.

MrHilton, who stood in Ay - cliffe east for the unitary authority in May, polled 294 losing by several places to Sarah Iveson, Mr Iveson?s wife, who polled 756.

For the results and a full report visit thenorthernecho. co.uk or see tomorrow?s paper.

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