RESIDENTS are living in “cloud cuckoo land” if they think voting in a BNP parish councillor will help remove travellers from illegal sites.

Basildon Council leader Malcolm Buckley spoke out after learning the far-right party was fighting for a seat on Noak Bridge Parish Council, using the traveller issue to win support.

Len Heather, who has previously stood for the British National Party in district council elections, is one of three candidates standing in the by-election on Thursday, September 18.

It’s been triggered by the resignation of Piera Pisanis, for personal reasons.

The other candidates are David McPherson-Davis, chairman of neighbouring Ramsden Crays Parish Council for more than four years, and Les Sherrard, who organised a scheme for disabled taxi users at Basildon Council until his contract ended in March.

Mr Heather said: “We came second in the Crouch ward, which includes Noak Bridge and Ramsden Crays, at the May district council elections.

“The feedback we got on the doors was they have the biggest illegal traveller site on their doorstep and want something done about it. Basildon Councillors make a lot of noise about the issue, usually at election time, then it goes quiet.

“I would ask residents what they want done, then put pressure on the council.”

However, Mr Buckley said if voted to the parish council, the BNP would have no power to do anything about the issue.

He said: “I would challenge anyone who says this council has not done everything in its power to ensure compliance in the green belt.

“We are at the mercy of the legal system and if we did any more it would be outside the law.

“If anyone thinks electing someone from an extreme party will help solve the issue they are in cloud cuckoo land.” Mr McPherson-Davis is standing despite also being a parish councillor for Ramsden Crays, where his colleague John Dornan has resigned.

Both men were at loggerheads with other members of Ramsden Crays council, who are all in the Crays Hill Residents’ Association.

Mr McPherson-Davis said his decision to stand was not linked to the in-fighting, and it did not mean he would be leaving Ramsden Crays.

He said: “I feel I can bring a lot of experience to what is a relatively young parish council at Noak Bridge.

“There is no reason why a parish councillor cannot sit on two councils.”