Council and partners plan for demonstration in Wellington
Telford & Wrekin Council and its partners including the police are assuring members of the public in Wellington that they are prepared for a protest march by the English Defence League (EDL) in the town this weekend.
The council is working with partners to make sure disruption is kept to a minimum.
Members of the public are advised that on Saturday, 12 May, a pre-planned protest march is due to take place in the town.
Beginning at approximately 1pm, the EDL march will follow a short route through Wellington ending in the square where there will be a number of speeches.
A small counter protest is also expected to take place nearby.
Police have been engaging with both groups to understand their plans in order to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum and a proportionate policing response is implemented.
Telford policing commander, Superintendent Tom Harding, said: “We know people will be concerned about the potential impact this event could have on people living and working in Wellington, and have been approached by victims and survivors who feel this is not something they wish to be associated with and is not a representation of their views. The town has a really positive community cohesion which is supported by strong local policing and we know our communities are keen that this isn’t disrupted.
“The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental democratic right, police do not have the power to stop a protest taking place, it is only if there is compelling evidence there is a real threat of violent disorder and risk to public safety in advance of the protest that an application can then be made to the Home Secretary for an order prohibiting the event going ahead. On this occasion there is no legal grounds to prohibit the protest.
“As police we very much act in a neutral capacity, we do not support or endorse any groups or individuals with our absolute priority public safety and preventing any crime and disorder.
“We’re well experienced at policing such events and have robust plans in place to deal with any eventuality. Over the past few weeks we have been working with the event organisers, our partner agencies and the wider community in the town to ensure there will be minimal disruption on the day.
“The organisers are required to give us seven days notice about their intentions which they have done.
“We will have sufficient officers on duty in Wellington on Saturday to ensure the safety of the public and minimal disruption. The officers on duty will be additional to those who usually cover the town, who will be on duty on Saturday. They will be there to offer reassurance to anyone who may be concerned and I would urge anyone who is concerned to stop and speak.”
Telford & Wrekin Council’s deputy leader Councillor Richard Overton said: “The police are leading on overseeing this protest and we are supporting their efforts by providing services where necessary.
“Although protests such as this are unwelcome distractions and can cause community tensions, the ability to peacefully and lawfully protest is a fundamental democratic right and it is the role of ourselves and partners to facilitate that, while at the same time ensuring the safety of residents. We would very much see this as business as usual for the community on the day.”
Police will keep you updated throughout the day with regular Twitter updates on our account @WMerciaPolice.