Leicester police announce routes for EDL and LUAF marches
The routes for two marches planned by the EDL and LUAF in Leicester city centre on Saturday have been announced.
Police and the council have reassured people in Leicester that they have the right experience to deal with the two marches planned by the English Defence League (EDL) and Leicester Unite Against Fascism (LUAF).
Chief Superintendent Rob Nixon, Leicester policing commander, said: “We know that there will be some people looking at the march routes who immediately feel concerned and these are not feelings we take lightly.
“Clearly, there will never be one route that is perfect for everyone but please be assured that our joint agreement on these routes draws heavily on experience of dealing with these kinds of large scale events.
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“We have used our experience of policing football and rugby matches, the disturbances in the summer and the last protest in October 2010 in the planning for next Saturday and are putting together a policing plan to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible to normal city centre business.
“Both the EDL and Leicester UAF came to us with a plan of where they would like to march. These were both carefully risk assessed and it was this which formed the basis of any negotiations with the event organisers. There has been lots of dialogue between the organisers, the police and the city council to get to this point.”
Leicester’s City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “None of us want these marches to take place, but looking at what happened in Leicester and other cities last year, we believe the marches will cause less disruption than the static demonstrations of October 2010.
“We will need to make some changes to bus routes and traffic flow while the marches are taking place, but we are aiming to get the city back to normal as quickly as possible once they have ended.
“Our city wardens will be in the city centre this week, giving out information on changes to bus services and traffic diversions. And our website will have regularly updated information about our plans for the day.
“Our priority is to ensure that people can go about their business safely, with the minimum amount of disruption on February 4th, and we are working very closely with the police to achieve this.”
The EDL will begin their march at St Margaret’s Pastures. They will then walk along St Margaret’s Way, onto Burleys Way, turn right onto Abbey Street, right again onto Belgrave Gate before heading down Church Gate and back towards St Margaret’s Pastures.
Leicester UAF will begin their march on Welford Place, heading along Pocklingtons Walk and right into Millstone Lane, leading onto Horsefair Street and Halford Street. They then turn right for a short distance on Charles Street before heading right along Belvoir Street and back to Welford Place.
Both groups are being asked to arrive at the assembly points from 11am. The marches are scheduled to begin at around 12.30pm and it will depend on the numbers involved as to how long it takes them to complete the route. However, both groups have been informed there is no provision for any static protests on either route but they may hold a static demonstration at the finish points.
Chief Superintendent Nixon added: “We are in the process of speaking with all the affected businesses directly on the route and are continuing to engage with people locally. There is sure to be some disruption to the city while those involved in the processions are marching through, however, it is the intention of both the police and the city council that it should be business as normal at all other times.”
To help ensure everything runs smoothly on Saturday the police have used section 12 and section 14 of the Public Order Act to impose conditions on both protest groups.
These stipulate the timings of the marches and the designated assembly points. Both groups have also been informed that there is no provision for a static assembly on the march route but they can hold a static demonstration at the finish point for a limited length of time. Any person taking part who knowingly fails to comply with the conditions is guilty of an offence for which they may be arrested.
The city council and the police have also taken on board feedback from local people and businesses who felt that because members of the EDL had the opportunity to drink prior to the event in October 2010 this was a significant contributory factor to the disorder that then took place.
To prevent this they are asking licensed premises not to open between 8am and 1pm on February 4 and will also use powers under the Licensing Act if necessary.