Just four pubs in Blackburn town centre will be open on Saturday during the English Defence League protest.
Police have asked the Zy Bar, Market Street Lane, Bar Ibiza, Mincing Lane, The Sun and The Arena, Astley Gate, to open on Saturday morning to give demonstrators somewhere to meet and drink. Every other pub in the town centre has agreed to remain closed until 4pm.
Town centre Sergeant Dave Clarke said opening up a handful of pubs enabled police to contain and monitor protestors. He said: “It is better that we know where they are and where they are drinking so we can watch their behaviour, rather than them drinking outside the town centre or in the streets. We’ve asked the majority of pubs to close on Saturday in the interest of public safety and they’ve all agreed. Some would rather be open, but understand what we are trying to achieve.”
The Zy Bar opens at 9.30am, The Sun and Bar Ibiza at 10am and The Arena at 10.30am. All will then close again at 12.30pm as the EDL event starts in Northgate at 12.45pm. They will then re-open again at 4pm, along with the rest of the licensed premises in the town centre, after the protest.
Sgt Clarke said it was ‘fortunate’ that Blackburn Rovers televised game away at Arsenal was the late kick off so that pubs could get their regulars customers in at 5.30pm. He added: “At 4pm most of the people coming to protest will be out of the town centre so we can resume normality as quickly as possible.”
Around 2,500 members of the English Defence League are expected. They will protest in Northgate outside King George’s Hall. A counter-demonstration by students, Lancashire Council of Mosques, trade unions, church people and anti-fascism groups will take place at the Sudell Cross end of Northgate.
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Thanks to Zaahid and NewsHound for the heads-up