English Defence League march banned

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The Independent Online

An English Defence League (EDL) march planned for this weekend has been banned amid fears of violence, it was disclosed today.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she had taken the action to protect "communities and property" in Telford.

However, she warned that members of the group would still be able to gather on the streets of the Shropshire town.

"I have given my consent to a ban on marches in Telford this weekend," Mrs May said. "It is clear that a ban is needed to ensure communities and property are protected.

"What this ban does not do however is stop an EDL presence or a static demonstration in Telford this weekend.

"West Mercia Police have a significant number of officers being deployed to police any EDL presence.

"I encourage all local people to work with the police to ensure community relations are not undermined."

Telford & Wrekin Council had requested the ban under Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986.

The local authority said it still expected the EDL to gather on Church Street in Wellington tomorrow, and a number of roads would be closed.

Councillor Shaun Davies said: "We welcome the fact that the Home Secretary has approved our request for the marches to be banned.

"However, there will still be a significant multi-agency operation in Wellington tomorrow in anticipation of a static protest.

"People can be reassured that both organisations have the resources available and the experience to deal with any incidents on the day. We have also worked very closely with local residents and the business community in Wellington and we would like to thank them for their support.

"Telford & Wrekin Council has always said that it does not want this to take place in the borough."

Chief Inspector Keith Gee, of West Mercia Police, said: "Even though the Home Secretary has given her consent it does not prevent any static assemblies taking place, which are still lawful provided they remain peaceful, and we have no legal powers to prevent them.

"We shall do everything possible to ensure that any assembly on Saturday remains peaceful and poses the least amount of disruption possible for those not involved in the assembly.

"To that end we are still planning for a major police operation, involving our multi-agency partners, and we will have significant numbers of police officers out on the streets to reassure our communities.

"I would like to reassure the communities in and around Wellington that we have the resources available and the experience to deal with any incidents on the day."