Fears voiced over referendum on EU

FEARS have been voiced that a planned referendum on the European Union in Corby could incite racial tensions.

The town is one of 11 places chosen by The People’s Pledge, a cross-party EU referendum campaign.

The first poll will be in Thurrock, Essex, on April 5, with the others taking place later in the year and 100 more across the UK in 2013.

At a full meeting of Corby Council, Conservative councillor Rob McKellar said: “My fear is that this mock referendum will stir up right-wing extremist views.

“The scepticism seems to be about free movement of people and at a time when there is competition for jobs it could stir up racial tensions.

“By holding a referendum in isolated areas the referendum will attract voters from extremists on both sides and the moderate view won’t be heard.

“I hope people decide not to have anything to do with it.”

Council leader Tom Beattie said that job creation in Corby and not a referendum on Europe is the priority for the town.

He said: “It is not top of my list of priorities.

“It is a distraction.

“Corby has a reputation for welcoming new people to the town and the council works hard to promote harmony.

“We don’t want anything to do with something that is likely to stir up that kind of tension.”

The People’s Pledge says it is holding the referendum, to be conducted by Electoral Reform Services, to complement its lobbying of MPs at Westminster.

A spokesman for The People’s Pledge said: “Selection for the following 10 will take place in late May for a polling day in the autumn.

“There will be a range of constituencies having regard to marginality and the party politics and Euro politics of both the sitting MP and rival candidates.”

As well as Corby, referendums are planned to take place in Belfast East, Bolton West, Carshalton and Wallington, Easington, Eastleigh, Gower, Halifax, Ipswich, Newcastle-under Lyme, Torridge and West Devon and the Western Isles.