No party politics, vows BNP mayor
A British National Party councillor who has won a vote to become a town mayor has said party politics will not play any role in his duties.
John Cave said his membership of the BNP was "completely irrelevant" to him acting as the mayor of Padiham, Lancashire, from next year. Earlier this month he was voted in as deputy mayor of his home town, three miles away from Burnley, where race riots took place in 2001.
His civic post will officially begin next month, and he will take the full mayoral chains 12 months later. He has indicated he will choose his wife, BNP county councillor Sharon Wilkinson, as his mayoress.
The decision has attracted criticism from anti-racism groups and the Bishop of Burnley, who questioned whether Mr Cave could serve and represent the whole of the community.
Mr Cave said the issue had been "blown out of all proportion" and that his main task would be to chair the regular meetings of the 15 councillors.
He said: "This is not meant to be a political forum of any sort. It is a town council, akin to a parish council. This is not party politics, this is all about Padiham. Politics does not come into it. It's completely irrelevant. This has been blown out of all proportion.
"The Mayor of Padiham is effectively the chairperson of meetings, I have been told there are not a lot of functions to carry out. The town council is very informal, very relaxed. There are no expenses, no wages, everyone does it voluntarily. I am astounded that people have got so excited about all of this."
Mr Cave has served on the council for 12 months but another councillor opted not to stand as deputy mayor and he became next in line in seniority. It is understood he was supported by nine out of 11 councillors who were present at the vote, with two abstaining.
Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Bishop of Burnley John Goddard said: "I always see the role of the mayor and deputy mayor as the chief citizens of the community, and they have a responsibility to uphold and defend the rights of all British citizens of the town, regardless of race, colour or status.
"It will be interesting to see if he acts in the best traditions of a mayor in the community, and I pray he does, as he will have to reject the philosophy of the BNP. If he retains the BNP political philosophy then how can he expect to serve and represent the whole of the community?"