A right-wing group has threatened £500,000 action against councils in Shropshire if they hold any festive events that do not contain the word Christmas in the title.
The English Defence League has written to all major councils in the country – including Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin – warning them not to “lose the meaning of Christmas”.
The group is threatening repeat demonstrations in towns and villages it believes to be ignoring its advice. Events that may be deemed to breach the EDL threat include Christmas lights switch-ons, pantomimes and nativity plays.
In the letter, sent from the party head office and seen by the Shropshire Star, the EDL says: “As I’m sure you are aware Christmas is a long-established tradition in British history and indeed other cultures and religions and dates back as far as 400AD.
“Please keep Christmas as Christmas and not let our culture and traditions be eroded and preserve English values.
“Any council that does not keep the word Christmas in the annual celebrations and opts for Winter Festival, out of the politically correct appeasement of others to the detriment of our traditions, will have their town visited by the English Defence League throughout the following year.
“The average cost to the council is £500,000 when the English Defence League demonstrates at any given location and it is hoped this will be avoided by your council keeping the word Christmas alive. Do not lose the meaning of Christmas by changing it to Winter Festival.”
Telford & Wrekin Council confirmed it had received the letter, and had passed it onto the police.
A Telford & Wrekin Council spokesman said: “This is a generalised letter to all local authorities and there is no specific reference to Telford & Wrekin. As a matter of routine procedure, we have passed the letter to West Mercia Police for information. We are happy that Christmas celebrations will proceed in the borough as normal.”
Shropshire Council said it would not be advising county events to alter their titles. A Shropshire Council spokesman said: “Any events held by the council are named whatever is deemed most appropriate and suitable by the organisers.”