Three people were arrested as far right-groups were accused by police of using diversionary tactics to promote their message.
The British National Party organised simultaneous protests in Rochdale and Heywood, Greater Manchester, over a child sex grooming case.
Police said around 10 BNP supporters held a peaceful demonstration in Heywood town centre at around 5pm yesterday.
But at the same time approximately 40 far-right protesters from groups including the Infidels of Britain and the National Front tried to force their way into a council function at Rochdale town hall.
Police took "swift action" to stop the demonstrators from disrupting the gathering.
Two men were arrested for a breach of the peace and another for a racially-aggravated public order offence.
Last week nine Asian men received jail sentences of between four and 19 years from a judge who said they treated their five white victims "as though they were worthless and beyond any respect".
Superintendent Chris Hankinson of Greater Manchester Police said last night: "This evening's events show that far-right groups are now prepared to use different tactics in order to get their views across.
"On this occasion they appear to have planned a separate demonstration in Heywood to draw attention away from a larger event in Rochdale.
"Thankfully they came up against our determined and professional officers who prevented them getting into the town hall where they were clearly intent on causing as much disruption as possible.
"We took swift action to stop this and restored peace as quickly as possible.
"I want to thank the communities of Heywood and Rochdale for not engaging in today's activities and we will continue to work with them to ensure disruption from these types of events are kept to a minimum."