BNP head for Yoxford

A CONTROVERSIAL candidate in a forthcoming district council by-election claimed last nightthat there are "a lot of members" of his far-right party in the region.

By Sarah Chambers

A CONTROVERSIAL candidate in a forthcoming district council by-election claimed last nightthat there are "a lot of members" of his far-right party in the region.

Paul Goodchild, who is standing for the British National Party (BNP) in the Yoxford by-election, said there were members in the district as well, although he refused to say how many.

He describes his Suffolk roots and 20-year stint with the Territorial Army in his election campaign leaflets, which he has been delivering to residents for the Suffolk Coastal district council byelection on February 5.

The Yoxford seat, which includes the beauty spots of Westleton, Dunwich, Darsham and Middleton, will be in the national spotlight because of Mr Goodchild's decision to stand.

It is the first time a member of the BNP has stood for a rural seat. Up until now, they have concentrated on the large urban areas.

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Some local people who spoke to the EADT were appalled by Mr Goodchild's candidature.

"I think it's terrible," said Kim Phillips, a shop assistant. "Not many people are happy about it, I know that."

"If they do vote for them they don't know what they are getting into," warned Carol Sukmanski of Darsham. "They don't realise what they are voting in. They are voting in a vitriolic party which is bad news, that's my opinion."

Her grandparents came from Poland as refugees during the Nazi era, she said.

However, Mr Goodchild, is keen to stress that despite strong views against mass immigration into the country, he has not got a problem with race.

"I think it's wrong to dislike somebody because of their race. You can find good and bad people in any culture."

However, membership of the party is not known for its cultural diversity. Mr Goodchild concedes that black people are not evident within it.

"I can't say I know anybody in the party who is black," he said.

"You can draw what conclusions you like, that's not what motivates me."

Mr Goodchild, 43, has lived in Suffolk all his life and was educated at Framlingham College. He works in information technology and was with the Royal Anglian Regiment Territorial Army for more than 20 years.

Despite his views on immigration, Mr Goodchild says the main thrust of his campaign is on local, rural issues.

"The election I'm standing on has nothing to do with that at all. It's about issues in the community. People feel they are not being listened to.

"They had big council tax rises last year. They see services going down here, they see bus services disappearing, they see local shops disappearing."

The Yoxford bi-election has been brought about by the death of Conservative councillor Peter Wragg, who was suffering from cancer. He won the May 2003 district council election after gaining 412 votes.

His opponent was John Barrett of the Green Party, who won 258 votes. The turnout was 38.9%.

The other candidates standing for election on Thursday, February 5, are: Warwick Faville (Conservative), John Slater (Liberal Democrat) and Timothy Williams (Labour).

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