Political leaders are appealing for calm ahead of this year’s elections, with one saying he has “never known the atmosphere to be so charged”.

On Saturday afternoon, Bradford Councillor Imdad Hussain (The Peace Party, Heaton) was punched in the street as he was canvassing in Frizinghall. A man in his 20s was arrested.

Then at about midnight, the windscreen of Coun Hussain’s red Ford Focus was smashed while it was parked outside his campaign office in Heights Lane, Heaton.

Coun Hussain yesterday called for calm, saying: “Tensions are really high.”

He said family members were now urging him to stand down from the election, fearing for his safety.

“They are seriously worried,” he said.

But he said he was determined to fight on, and had already rejoined the campaign trail.

Elsewhere in the district, another candidate has been receiving abusive phone calls from anonymous callers.

Coun Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group, said for the past ten days he had been getting foul-mouthed or silent calls. He said: “Sometimes it is just one swear word and then they hang up.”

Coun Miller said while he had not reported the calls to police, he thought this year’s election was proving more heated than any he had fought in the past.

He added: “I have stood for election four or five times and I have never known the atmosphere to be so charged with innuendos and nastiness.”

The leaders of the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green, Ukip and Respect parties have all condemned any use of violence or intimidation on the campaign trail.

Council and Labour group leader Coun David Green said he could not comment on individual incidents, but said: “I would certainly expect all members and candidates from my party to behave responsibly and to fight the election on the issues we want to put in front of the electorate.”

A senior police officer said they would fully investigate any allegations that could impact on the fairness of the elections.

Chief Inspector Carl Burkey said: “Protecting the integrity of our democratic voting system is a vital area of police business and work began in Bradford some time ago to ensure that everything that can be done will, or has been done already to ensure the elections run as smoothly as possible.”

The police is also investigating the damage to Coun Hussain’s car. Anyone with information can call 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.