Nottingham City Council leader Jon Collins today urged people not to counter-demonstrate against a "small bunch of fascists".
The English Defence League (EDL), who claim to be campaigning against a rise in UK based Islamic extremism, are holding a rally this Saturday afternoon in Nottingham city centre. The event is being held on the same day as rallies by Unite Against Fascism and Stop the BNP in Nottinghamshire, a march by more than 400 Mercian soldiers returning from Afghanistan, and the football league match between Nottingham Forest and Leicester City at the City Ground.
But Chief Superintendent Shaun Beebe said the police had been working with other forces in the build up to Saturday to try and ensure the protests were peaceful. He said: "We are preparing a significant, but proportionate policing operation, which will use a range of tactics and see highly visible officers, deployed across the city centre. We will endeavour to facilitate peaceful protest, while ensuring visitors to Nottingham, and are allowed to go about their normal business in a safe manner. In the build-up to Saturday we have worked with other forces, which have recently experienced this kind of assembly, and have been speaking with the demonstration groups to establish their intentions."
Some road closures and bus diversions may have to be made during the day and Nottingham Castle will be closed.
Coun Collins said: "This is a small bunch of fascists who have been touring the country causing as much trouble as possible in different cities. Their aim is to promote trouble. I would urge people not to counter demonstrate. I would understand why people would want to protest against these people, but the only reason they are coming to Nottingham is to cause trouble.
"It's very obvious because they were planning to come earlier this year, but changed the date to coincide it with the Mercians and the Forest and Leicester match. They want to cause the greatest trouble to local people and cause the greatest cost. The kind of views they hold, most reasonable people in the country will find abhorrent."
The EDL has agreed with Notts Police that they will gather in Castle Road from about 2pm, away from the main shopping area and Christmas attractions.
Mr Collins added: "I urge people to be in town to support the Mercians march past. Whatever people think of the war in Afghanistan, we should recognise the sacrifices made by East Midlands soldiers."
Coun Collins said he had been told by Nottinghamshire Police that the cost of policing the various events on Saturday would be around £170,000. He added: "It's a shame that local taxpayers are going to have to find £170,000 that should be being spent on community policing. I would also urge people to use the city centre as they would normally in the run up to Christmas."
Nottingham Castle and The Museum of Nottingham Life (Brewhouse Yard) will be closed this Saturday to assist with the policing of the events.
Nottingham Evening Post