John Cave chosen in town just three miles from scene of 2001 race riots
'My politics will not encroach,' he insists
A town just three miles from the scene of major race riots is set to become the first in the UK to have a BNP member as its mayor.
Councillors have voted overwhelmingly for John Cave to take over as civic leader of Padiham, Lancashire.
But critics have warned the appointment reflects poorly on the town and argued that he cannot serve the whole community without 'rejecting his party's philosophy.'
Councillor Cave has previously claimed that party politics were behind those who opposed his selection.
He will become Deputy Mayor in the next civic year and take the chains of office 12 months later.
He says he is proud to serve the town, which is situated about three miles from Burnley and has a population of around 9,000.
He said: 'It is a vote of confidence. This is my home town and I was born here. It is all about Padiham and Padiham is not about politics.
'It is my home and my aim is to make it a lot better place to live. I will be really proud to be mayor.'
'The system was arranged so everyone could have a chance. One or two opposed the idea and interpreted the rules in a different way. If all the councillors had voted 'no', I would have said they didn't want me on the council but the majority are happy with the decision.
'It is a non-political council and my politics have not encroached on what happens in Padiham. It has been easier than I expected to remain non-political in the past 12 months.'
But Bishop of Burnley John Goddard said he was not happy with the decision.
He said: 'I always see the role of the mayor and deputy mayor as the chief citizen of the community, and they have a responsibility to uphold and defend the rights of all British citizens of the town, regardless of race, colour or status
'Given that,I look forward to the deputy mayor showing that the BNP are wrong in their racist policies
'It will be interesting to see if he acts in the best traditions of a mayor in the community, and I pray he does, as he will have to reject the philosophy of the BNP.
'If he retains the BNP political philosophy then how can he expect to serve and represent the whole of the community?'
The role means Councillor Cave, who is married to BNP Lancashire County Councillor Sharon Wilkinson and has been a councillor for just 12 months, will take over the chains from current mayor Bob Clark in a year.
Councillor Shah Hussain, who represents Daneshouse and Stoneyholme on Burnley Council, said: 'I have concerns with what the BNP stands for and its policies. It is a party that is divisive to the community.'