Leicester: former council leader calls for ban on EDL march

City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has been urged to ask the Home Office to outlaw Saturday’s English Defence League march.

The call was made yesterday by former city council leader Ross Willmott. He said he was concerned at the potential for disorder breaking out along the route allocated to the group, which includes Belgrave Gate, the Clock Tower and Church Gate.

Instead the group – whose members turned violent during a previous demonstration in the city in October 2010 – should only be allowed to go ahead with their “static” demonstration outside the city centre, Coun Willmott said.

The EDL yesterday appeared to agree to the route and conditions laid down for it by the police by posting a message to its supporters on its Facebook page, saying they should arrive at the agreed departure point – St Margaret’s Pastures – at the time stipulated by police.

Coun Willmott, who claimed other members of the council supported his position, said: “The march will allow the EDL to effectively take control of these streets in the city centre. It’s astonishing that the police have advised the council that these people should be allowed to parade along a busy shopping area on a Saturday. The march will be intimidating for many people.”

Leicester Unite Against Fascism members will decide shortly if they are happy to stick to the route given to them by police. Jackie Lewis, chairwoman of the group, said:

“We are disappointed the council and the police have allowed the English Defence League a route through the symbolic heart of the city centre. This area belongs to the people of Leicester, not the English Defence League which is, largely, busing people in from outside the area.”

Leicester Mercury, 1 February 2012

See also “Castle Ward councillors condemn EDL march decision”, Leicester UAF news report, 1 February 2012

Update:  See “EDL handed a moral victory”, letter in Leicester Mercury, 2 February 2012

And “‘Wrong to allow EDL rally,’ say Leicester councillors”,Leicester Mercury, 2 February 2012