Police Ready for City Demonstrations

West Midlands Police are confident they will be able to handle any problems which occur on Saturday afternoon.

West Midlands Police are confident that they can avert any problems which may occur as a result of Saturday’s planned protest by the far-right English Defence League in Birmingham city centre.

The controversial group’s previous gatherings in the region have resulted in serious disturbances, and there have been calls by local politicians and faith groups for Saturday’s meeting to be banned. Cllr Alan Rudge, on behalf of council leader Mike Whitby and deputy Paul Tilsley, has previously contacted the chief constable of the West Midlands to convey what he called his “astonishment” that the EDL rally has been allowed to go ahead. However, police have no powers to forbid the intended static demonstration, which is expected to attract upwards of 500 people, although they have insisted that the event takes place at Centenary Square, away from the planned venue of Victoria Square, currently the site of an Occupy protest.

With a multi-racial Unity event set to be staged at the same time in nearby Chamberlain Square in protest at the EDL’s presence and both Blues and Albion playing at home on the same day , there are fears of violence in the city centre, particularly damaging in the run-up to Christmas. However, a police spokesman told us, “We have a duty to allow peaceful protest to take place. We can understand the community’s anxiety, especially in light of the disturbances which took place in August, but we are confident that we will be able to successfully police the events on Saturday.”

While there are no traffic restrictions currently planned, police may implement such measures on certain roads around Victoria Square, including part of Colmore Row and Hill Street, if required.

See Steve Beauchampe’s comment on this here