Mainstream politicians and council staff warned they would protest against the three new councillors by refusing to co-operate with them and leaving committee rooms. 'A lot of us will get up and walk out', said Kevin Robinson of the right-wing Independent Party.
The strategy mirrors tactics used in Tower Hamlets LBC when the BNP won a by-election seat nine years ago.
The Anti-Nazi League held a demonstration in Burnley on Saturday and further protests were planned when the new councillors are sworn in.
DTLR secretary Stephen Byers is examining whether the BNP might be in breach of the legally binding code of conduct for councillors that came into force at the weekend (see LGCnet ). The new code and the Act might render BNP councillors unable to vote on issues such as housing, regeneration and education policy unless they publicly abandon core BNP policies. CRE and ministerial sources said every vote and policy initiative made by the BNP in Burnley would be scrutinised. If any breach the code or Act, they face being reported to the committee on standards in public life.
However, some MPs warned the approach would be a 'legal minefield' since similar powers could be used against other minority parties or trade unionists. The BNP would also exploit the publicity such moves might generate, increasing resentment among its white supporters.