A FORMER British National Party member has been arrested after police found bomb-making equipment at his house.

Police sealed off the home of Robert Cottage in Talbot Street, Colne, after storming the address and discovering chemical components that could be used to make explosives.

The 49-year-old has been arrested under the Explosives Act on suspicion of possessing chemicals that may be capable of making an explosion.

However Superintendent Neil Smith moved to reassure residents and stressed: "It is not a bomb making factory" and added that it was not related to terrorism.

Officers have been at the address since last Thursday and have been conducting door to door inquiries. Forensic officers have seized his car for examination.

Supt Smith added: "We are making inquiries in relation to what we have found at his address and to establish what offences he may have committed.

"He's not a terrorist and it's not a bomb factory but we are interested in what we have seized from his house. It will take expert advice to establish exactly what he has got.

"He was arrested under the Explosives Act on suspicion of possessing chemical substances that aren't in themselves an offence to possess but if combined may be capable of making an explosion."

Cottage stood for the BNP in the May elections in the Vivary Bride ward of Colne.

However it is understood his membership had lapsed.

Nelson BNP councillor Brian Parkinson said: "I am very shocked and surprised to hear this. I am glad to hear that he is no longer a member of our party because the BNP wouldn't want to be associated with this incident. It certainly wouldn't condone the sort of thing he is allegedly being connected with."

Neighbours said they were shocked by the police swoop. Corinne West, 22, of Talbot Street, said: "The police came to my door at 7pm on Friday night asking if I had seen anything suspicious. They wouldn't tell me anything which was quite worrying."

Aaron Haworth, 23, who lives next door but one with his partner Marie and two children, added: "The police have been here since Thursday and we are still none the wiser as to what's happened.

"It's ridiculous really. I have two young children and if there is bomb making equipment at the house I want to know about it because I have my children's safety to think about. There's been all sorts of rumours flying around, I don't know why the police are being so cagey, that's what's making everyone so worried."

Another neighbour, who lives across the road, but who asked not to be named, said: "I know Robert to talk to. He's always very polite and stops to talk his mum who lives on the same road and she's very nice too.

"He is good with the children on the street. He's been married to Karina for about three years and they seem good together. He drives a yellow bus taking disabled children to school and stood in the local elections for the BNP party.

"I think it is an outrage that the police have been so secretive. The forensics have been here and taken his Peugeot car away for examination.

"On Thursday we were told to stay inside and stay away from the windows which left us all wondering what on earth was going on. They arrested him from the back door and it was strange because the officers had a key to get in the front but from the way they went in it looked as though they thought it might have been booby-trapped. It took them about 10 minutes just to get through the door."