NINE people were arrested after violence erupted outside Burnley Town Hall as the British National Party's new councillors attended their first meeting.

People were left with bloodied faces and councillors were pelted with eggs and flour during ugly scenes before the far right members took their seats in the council chamber last night.

Protesters from the Anti Nazi League gathered opposite BNP supporters outside the town hall before the meeting.

Around 40 ANL demonstrators chanted: "Nazi scum off our streets".

BNP supporters replied with a chorus of Rule Britannia.

As the BNP councillors arrived in a black American car, Anti Nazi League demonstrators broke free from a police cordon and hurled eggs and flower at them.

Visibly shaken by the incident, 21-year-old Luke Smith, a BNP councillor for the Lanehead ward, was restrained by party activists.

He was led in to Burnley Town Hall by party members after scuffling with protesters.

Police in full riot gear lined the streets waiting for the arrival of the councillors, but were unable to prevent the attack. A police spokesman said nine arrests were made. Eight people have received formal cautions, while one person remained in custody being questioned over an alleged assault.

Inside the council chamber, Burnley's new mayor, councillor Lilian Clark urged councillors to treat each one another equally.

Coun Clark said: "All councillors have been democratically elected and will be treated as equals."

Burnley MP Peter Pike said today the demonstration against the BNP could have done more harm than good.

"I don't really think these type of disturbances help the situation. People have a right to protest, obviously, and there are strong feelings.

"In the end we have to find a way to defeat the BNP through the ballot box. One of the problems is that this type of violent protest can have the opposite affect and give the BNP a higher profile than they deserve.

"I strongly believe all demonstrations and protests should be peaceful."

After the meeting, BNP councillor Barry Birks said he was unsurprised by the action of the demonstrators. Coun Birks said: "It's what we expect from these hooligans."

Coun Birks and the other seven BNP councillors were escorted to waiting cars after the meeting. Coun Smith refused to comment.

Former Mayor of Padiham Granville Lord said: "This sort of violence helps no-one and only puts Burnley in a bad light.

"However frustrated and angry people may be at the political state of the town we need to tackle the problems in a civilised and democratic way."

The BNP failed in its bid to get members elected to committees. Despite the support of the Independent group and the Conservatives, the BNP nominations were overwhelmingly voted out.

Several BNP councillors stood for election to vice-chairman positions on council sub-committees.

The BNP councillors hold 15 of the 88 committee positions. None was elected to the council's executive committee, which contains just Labour members.

The party's eight councillors are the largest group the far-right party has held in any form of government in this country.

It added five seats to the three already held on the council in the local elections, making it the second largest political party in Burnley.

After being re-elected as leader of the council, Stuart Caddy said: "I want to build a shared future for everyone in Burnley. We will challenge racism wherever we come across it."

He added the council was to be handed almost a quarter of the £4 million given to East Lancashire under the Pathfinder regeneration programme.

The money would be spent on breathing new life into Burnley's housing market.

And,Coun Caddy said education and care for the elderly would be a priority.

He also took the opportunity to speak about what he called "myths" circulating the town.

He added: "The council's budget is allocated to providing services equally and fairly across the borough.

"External funding that comes into this council, which we fight hard to bring into the borough, is targeted to specific criteria.

"And there are only 54 asylum seekers in the borough of Burnley. That is the number who are actually in the town, not the hundreds that we hear people talk about."