21 February 2008

Extremists target youth

EXTREME right wing political group the National Front has set up a youth group in Chippenham, despite huge opposition from schools and parents.

The group, whose conditions of membership include no homosexuals, must be of white parentage and partners must also be white', has already held two meetings in the town.

At the latest meeting on February 16, more than 25 youngsters from the age of 14 attended and awards were handed out to individuals for their work for the organisation.

When the Gazette broke the news of the National Front's arrival in Chippenham in September, schools were outraged that the party intended to hand out leaflets at the gates to attract young members.

Gerard MacMahon, head teacher at Sheldon School, said: "I am confident that our pupils would not have any involvement with an organisation which is involved in the stirring or spreading of hate.

"At the school we would have nothing to do with an organisation like that - Sheldon will have nothing to do with them.

"As an immigrant myself, I am not at all interested in what they have got to say."

News that the party has managed to establish a youth group in town has come as a shock to many. Mum-of-two teenagers Emma Fitzwarren, 44, of Eastern Avenue said: "I think it is totally disgusting they have infiltrated the town - why have people even given them the time of day?

"I have warned my children about getting involved with the racists and I know they would never be sucked into it.

"I am now just concerned about other children. They might feel pressured to join and that could lead to horrendous consequences. I plead with all parents to make sure their children are not involved."

A spokesman for Wiltshire College said: "We are an inclusive organisation and we would be very concerned about any association with groups who do not share our values, particularly those who would seek to discriminate against groups or individuals."

Steve Reynolds, executive member of the National Front, said: "Many issues arose, one on their safety and their fears of being attacked by others. Some expressed concern for their elderly relatives, claiming they had been failed by the system and others in the community. We also touched on the closure of Lacock Post Office."

Gazette and Herald

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