Fears of more violence on the streets of Birmingham have been raised after it emerged the English Defence League was planning a second march in the city.
The organisation’s supporters are set to take to the streets on October 29, more than two years after their last visit ended in confrontations with anti-fascist groups. The Unite Against Fascism group, whose supporters clashed with EDL followers during clashes in Birmingham in 2009, has also announced plans for a counter-demonstration in Birmingham on the same day.
Selly Oak Labour MP Steve McCabe urged West Midlands Police to apply to Home Secretary Theresa May for the EDL protest to be banned as it would cost too much money to patrol. Two protests by the EDL in Dudley last year cost West Midlands Police and Dudley Council £1.1 million.
“I used to say that the EDL should be allowed to demonstrate but having seen the trouble they cause, I’ve changed my mind,” Mr McCabe said. “Birmingham people can’t afford to waste that much money on policing and repairing the damage to our retail area. These things are deliberately organised to cause maximum destruction. There’s no element of normal demonstration. This is a rag bag of extremism looking to cause trouble and I don’t think the Birmingham people deserve it.”
The exact location of the EDL’s Birmingham event was being kept secret until nearer the time but 575 supporters had confirmed their attendance online yesterday.
Unite Against Fascism confirmed it was organising an anti-EDL demonstration, to start at noon in High Street. A spokesman said: “The EDL wants to bring its vicious, anti-Muslim racist hatred to the multi-racial, multi-cultural city.”
A Birmingham City Council spokesman said they were liaising with police. A police spokesman said: “West Midlands Police is aware of a planned protest in Birmingham city centre on October 29. As on previous occasions, police have no power to ban a static protest.
“Police will be monitoring the situation to ensure maintenance of public order and officers will be deployed throughout the city centre to provide a visible reassurance to retailers, shoppers and all those visiting Birmingham. Any criminal or public order offences will be robustly dealt with.”