LEADERS of Basildon's three main political parties have united to urge voters to snub the British National Party after learning the party will field 11 candidates at next month's elections.

The far-right group - which is against a multi-cultural Britain and hopes to "repatriate" UK citizens from some non-white nationalties - is putting up candidates in all but three of the 14 wards being contested this year.

That's two more candidates than the Liberal Democrats, who have put forward just nine hopefuls.

Basildon Council leader Malcolm Buckley said: "I would actively discourage anyone from voting for the BNP which claims not to be racist, but displays all the signs of racism through its decisions and policies.

"I find it disappointing the Lib Dems have been unable to get a candidate in each ward and seem to want to do no more than to fight to keep the Nethermanye seat."

Last year the BNP put up six candidates, but none got in.

It has increased votes in recent years with candidates taking second place in a number of wards.

Nigel Smith, Basildon, Labour Group leader, added: "Since the 1970s Basildon has seen candidates stand for the National Front, neo-Nazi parties and now the BNP, but they have never succeeded in winning a seat.

"They are a party which bring nothing positive and only seek to stir up bigotry and I am sure most voters will have nothing to do with them."

He said it was a sad commentary on the Lib Dems they were unable to put up more candidates than the extremist party.

But Geoff Williams, Basildon Lib Dem group leader, described the low number of his party's candidates as a "tactical" decision, where the focus was on seats he thought they could win.

He said: "I'm not sure if they will get someone in, I hope the mainstream parties get sufficient support to prevent it happening."

Sid Chaney, 84, who is standing for the BNP in Pitsea South East, a ward where the Lib Dems is not represented, said: "The electorate will decide.

"We have gained more votes every year when we have stood in Basildon and this is the most candidates we have ever had."