Olivia Midgley | Friday, 9 May 2008 Source: Spenborough Guardian
DAVID Exley was left licking his wounds this week after being defeated in the local elections – but has vowed he will be back.
Mr Exley, who was the first BNP councillor to be elected onto Kirklees, was beaten into second place by Labour's Steve Hall, with a majority of 194 votes.
Mr Exley, who has been a councillor for five years and was leader of the BNP group on Kirklees, said he was "gutted" to be out of his seat.
He said: "I honestly thought I would pip Steve Hall to the post. I always knew it was going to be close but I didn't think it would happen.
"It was a bizarre result in Heckmondwike because nationally the Labour vote has gone down, but unfortunately here it has gone up.
"We did a lot of work up to the elections, but so did Labour and all credit to them for that."
Mr Exley said he would still like to carry on the work he had started in the town and would be working closely with Heckmondwike's other BNP councillor, Roger Roberts.
"Some people would like to think I'll be disappearing but I won't be," said Mr Exley.
"I will definitely stand in Heckmondwike again. I wouldn't want to stand anywhere else.
"I've made too many friends here and I've started too many things in Heckmondwike that I want to see through to fruition, like the major regeneration work including the health centre and the library and information centre."
Unsurprisingly Heckmondwike's new councillor Steve Hall was delighted with the result.
He said: "I've had an amazing team behind me, but we've got more hard work to do now. We'll be campaigning on a number of issues including the shortage of buses in Heckmondwike, especially for elderly people and rubbish bin collections.
"It's been a traditional, old-fashioned style campaign – we worked very hard."
On the BNP losing its hold on the town, Coun Hall, who wore a Hope Not Hate badge, said: "They have lost a great deal of votes – they don't seem to have the support they had.
"A lot of work, especially regeneration in the town centre has been moving forward for many years, but the BNP takes all the credit for other parties' work and jumps on somebody else's band wagon."
Batley and Spen Labour MP Mike Wood said: "I am delighted all our hard work over the last 12 months has paid off and has resulted in Coun David Sheard having a colleague to work with in Heckmondwike.
"I am doubly pleased that we have removed not only a BNP councillor, but also the leader of the BNP group.
"It is important for us that we work with the people of Heckmondwike and not divide them – the BNP caused trouble between parts of the community. It was our number one target and I took personal charge of this, that we followed up our work from last year and we have succeeded in taking the seat from the BNP. We are determined to remove the other BNP councillor."