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LOCAL ELECTIONS: ANTI-BNP PROTESTS STEAL LEWISHAM MAYOR'S LIMELIGHT

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By LGC reporter Suzanne Simmons-Lewis ...
By LGC reporter Suzanne Simmons-Lewis

One of the perks of a being directly elected mayor is basking in guaranteed limelight as the powerful local figurehead.

But in Lewisham LBC, the mayoral candidates' potential charms were usurped by a 300-strong delegation of mainly student anti-BNP protesters outside the election count at Goldsmiths college.

The president of Goldsmith's Student Union, Peter Leary, stole much of the media attention, as he led chorus of demonstrators to shouts of 'Nazi scum off our campus!' through his loudhailer.

Amid a heavy police guard, the BNP candidates for the Downham ward and their supporters had to seek refuge in police vans as they were roundly chased along the road when they attempted to gain access to the count. They were only able to enter some time later with a wall of shoulder-to-shoulder police escorting them.

Before this display, the only controversy threatened to be mayoral candidate Derek Stone's (Con) allegedly racist 'vote for one of your own' poster which flaunted a Union flag.

After a second count, the mayoral result was finally announced just before 5am - narrowly missing the late record set for the Lewisham's general election results. But by then few people were left to share in Steve Bullock's (Lab) victory speech.

To just a smattering of applause, Mr Bullock - who had over 14,000 more votes than his closest rival, Mr Stone - complained of the 'hugely disappointing' turnout: just 24%.

One Labour Party worker, keen on conundrums, calculated there was a vote cast in Lewisham every two and a half minutes, as opposed to every 50 seconds in last year's general election.

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