BNP meets at secret venue after ‘turning down’ hall

THE British National Party claims it turned down the opportunity to use a local hall 10 days before its planned event.

Party leader Nick Griffin addressed a rally at a secret location in Hastings on Sunday (October 23).

Organisers had made an enquiry about using the Baldslow Memorial Hall in Harrow Lane, St Leonards, earlier this month.

This prompted council leader Jeremy Birch to write to the hall organisers last week.

He warned that if they allowed the BNP to use the hall they would lose their business rate relief for charitable status, around £376 per year.

Cllr Birch addressed a full council meeting on October 19 to say that he would be writing to the hall immediately.

In a statement to the Observer he said: “This council is committed to equal opportunities and to community harmony.

“We don’t want any venue in the town providing a platform to those who peddle ideas about discrimination and intolerance.

“I am not prepared to use Hastings council taxpayer’s money to subsidise a community facility that is prepared to behave in a way that is directly contrary to the interests of the community.”

Yesterday (Thursday) councillor Birch said the authority had not sent a new bill as it was still waiting to hear from the hall organisers.

The BNP regional spokesman Nick Prince said it decided to hold the event elsewhere because of the attention it was attracting. He claimed 182 people attended and more than £1,000 was raised for its election fund.

Mr Prince said: “I did ring the hall to see if it was available for Sunday, October 23. Although we have used it in the past we made a decision not to use it about 10 days before.

“We decided not to consider the hall any longer, partly because of the number of intimidating calls and emails the lady who books the hall had received.

“Also it became apparent that we would need a larger hall due to the numbers expected. It only holds around 90 people. Baldslow Hall was one of four venues we considered for this event.”