West Mercia Police this morning made a recommendation to Telford & Wrekin Council to make an application to the Home Secretary Theresa May to ban the EDL march that is planned for Saturday. The march could be banned under Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986. A decision – which would prevent any marches taking place – is expected later today.
Speaking about the latest developments, Assistant Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, from West Mercia Police, said: “Although a ban may now be imposed, we would ask people to remember that this ban does not prevent an assembly taking place on Saturday in Wellington.
“With that being the case, West Mercia Police continue to plan for a major operation at the weekend and we would like to reassure local people that a significant police presence will be on duty all day. We will have the resources available to deal with every likely eventuality.”
Council leader Kuldip Sahota said: “We have now begun the formal legal process to apply to the Home Secretary for a ban on all marches in the borough of Telford and Wrekin. This includes the planned English Defence League march and any counter demonstrations.
“The Council’s position has always been that we do not want the EDL march to take place in our borough and I said that publicly at the Full Meeting of Council on July 28. We have now received new advice from West Mercia Police and are writing to the Home Secretary formally requesting all marches be banned and that West Mercia Police are provided with the necessary additional resources in order to keep the peace.
“We believe the march could pose a threat to public safety, given the riots elsewhere in England and are calling on the Home Secretary to use her powers to ban the march. We have also been working extremely closely with the local community in Wellington and Telford at large and the vast majority do not want this march to go ahead.”
If the EDL do go ahead with a static protest, the police should be urged to use their powers under Section 14 of the Public Order Act to contain and restrict it, as was done in Dewsbury recently.
The anti-EDL unity demonstration will also be restricted to a static assembly if Theresa May agrees to impose a ban, but that seems a small price to pay if the EDL can be prevented from holding an intimidatory march through Wellington.