Lancashire TelegraphNaseem’s historic day clouded by BNP win (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Naseem’s historic day clouded by BNP win

Lancashire Telegraph: Lib Dems' Naseem Shabnam Lib Dems' Naseem Shabnam

PENDLE saw a night of two contrasting election firsts as a British National Party candidate and an Asian woman were voted in.

The Liberal Democrats remained the majority party in the borough with 29 councillors, while the BNP gained one seat, Conservatives two seats and the Labour Party lost one place overall.

Wearing a St George's flag tie, new BNP councillor Brian Parker celebrated with arms aloft to a mixture of cheers and jeers as the result for the Marsden Ward was announced.

And Liberal Democrat Naseem Shabnam was elected for Brierfield to become the first female Asian councillor in Pendle.

She said: "I feel very proud.

"Being an Asian woman it's been very difficult but I've given 100 per cent and I've worked hard over the last six months.

I hope this will open the doors for a lot of Asian women to come forward and I hope it will encourage more women to stand at the next election

Naseem Shabnam

"I hope this will open the doors for a lot of Asian women to come forward and I hope it will encourage more women to stand at the next election.

"Asian women are part of the community, we have issues and it's about time we were heard."

Mr Parker, who ousted Labour's Dorothy Ormrod from the seat by 80 votes, refused to speak to the press.

But on a day when the BNP saw impressive results across the country, the party leader Nick Griffin claimed this was just the start of things in Pendle.

He said: "I am very pleased.

"We knew there was a possibility in Pendle but nevertheless we are all delighted.

"This is our first councillor there and I hope now we have that breakthrough we can go on and progress in the future.

"We saw it in Burnley once we won there we went on and won more seats.

"I think it's time people started to sit up and take notice of us."

The BNP, who have stood in the last three local elections in Pendle, fielded seven candidates this year and, for the first time, contested the Marsden ward.

But the BNP victory was slammed by the other political parties.

Mohammed Iqbal, leader of the Labour Party, said: "As far as the Labour group is concerned we will never work with the BNP."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Alan Davies said: "The BNP have achieved too many second place results tonight and that is a real worry."

And Tory leader Tony Becket added: "The BNP are there and we can't alter the result.

"They've won a seat, but as long as the voters continue to support us and we continue to support them that will be the only seat the BNP will ever get in Pendle."

Council chief executive Stephen Barnes said: "This has been the democratic wish of the ward concerned.

"The BNP councillor will have the same rights and responsibilities as any other councillor, to promote good community relations and cohesion in the borough."

Returning officer Stephen Barnes, chief executive of Pendle Council, said the turnout, 43.05 per cent, was poor but was improving on previous years.

He added: "We would have liked more but I think this is about the average for local elections."

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