THERE are a few topics always bound to come up during a council election.

Bins is a big one. Council tax another. Dog mess is always high on the list.

What you hopefully would not expect is for one of the candidates to stand up and announce they are a fascist. But at a hustings in Worthing on October 16 1933 that is exactly what Charles Bentinck Budd did.

An ex-soldier left disabled when a machine gun bullet lodged in his skull during the First World War, Mr Budd had moved to Worthing in 1926 from fascist Italy.

His biographer Michael Payne described him as “dislikeable, vain, excitable, prone to wild talk, unstable and with a mental outlook bordering on the pathological”.

But in 1930, his fascistic tendencies not yet known, he was elected to West Sussex County Council as an independent.

By the time the next election rolled around three years later, his extreme views were a little more clear. In a letter published in the Worthing Herald in 1932 he described jazz as “jungle music”.

So perhaps the onlookers were not too surprised when Mr Budd announced he was now a member of Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists at that fateful hustings in October 1933.

The Argus: Sir Oswald Mosley had set up the British Union of Fascists in 1932 Sir Oswald Mosley had set up the British Union of Fascists in 1932

In fact, they elected him.

Worthing had become the first town in the country to elect a self-proclaimed fascist councillor. It fast became a stronghold of fascism. Conservative mayor Harry Duffield congratulated the Blackshirts on their “discipline”. By January 1934 the union’s Worthing branch had more than 150 members.

That same month a crowd of 900 gathered in the Worthing Pavilion Theatre to watch a two-hour speech from William Joyce, the man later known as “Lord Haw-Haw” after he fled to Germany to broadcast Nazi propaganda. Soon a date was set for party leader Sir Oswald to speak at the same venue in October.

But at the same time an underground resistance movement against the fascists had begun to gather in Worthing.

The Argus: Future Nazi propagandist William Joyce spoke at the Worthing PavilionFuture Nazi propagandist William Joyce spoke at the Worthing Pavilion

The Worthing Anti-Fascist League formed, mainly led by maths teacher John Robert Peryer. Upon Mr Budd’s election the Worthing Labour Party had resolved to distribute anti-fascist literature.

When the British Union of Fascists office in Marine Parade was burgled, Mr Budd quickly pointed the finger at communists in the town. But the police soon arrested a young Blackshirt, Cyril Mitchell, who admitted to the crime after having “too much beer”.

When fascists plastered “Mosley Speaks” posters across the town heralding Sir Oswald’s arrival in October 1934, Young Socialists chairman Roy Nicholls doctored them to read: “Gasbag Mosley Speaks Tripe.”

Historian Mr Payne described Sir Oswald’s speech on the night of the 9th in his book Storm Tide: “Finally the curtain rose to reveal Sir Oswald himself standing alone on the stage.

“A forest of black-sleeved arms immediately shot up to hail him.”

The Argus: The fascists barricaded themselves in a cafe in the Royal Arcade. Photo: Hans LinnetThe fascists barricaded themselves in a cafe in the Royal Arcade. Photo: Hans Linnet

When he finished at 10pm, the fascists began a march down Worthing seafront only to be a met with a 2,000-strong crowd of protesters, though the police claimed this number was actually 400.

A brawl soon broke out. Ninety-six-year-old Doreen Hodgkins was hit on the head by a Blackshirt. Solicitor’s clerk Francis Skilton, on his way to post a letter, was battered by three fascists and rushed to hospital.

The Blackshirts barricaded themselves in a cafe in the Royal Arcade, protesters smashing windows and pelting them with fruit. Eventually they made a break down South Street, only to be met with another crowd of anti-fascists at Warwick Street.

The cat-and-mouse brawl continued until Sir Oswald, Mr Budd, Mr Joyce and a fourth fascist called Bernard Mullans were arrested, to the cheers of onlookers. All four were charged with riotous assembly but were acquitted in court.

But by no means did fascism slink out of Worthing. The town remained a stronghold for the far-right until 600 Sussex Blackshirts including Mr Budd were arrested at the outbreak of the Second World War.

But he had got the message. There were to be no more mass rallies in Worthing.