Shops may be forced to close their doors in Sheffield this weekend over fears of unrest as the English Defence League plan another gathering in the city centre.
Last Saturday two people were arrested for public order offences when the far-right group met with an army of protesters in Barker’s Pool - and a week later, hundreds of people are believed to be planning to attend a similar event in the same place.
Tommy Robinson, leader of the EDL, said the event will take place from 1pm on Saturday and involve a ‘peaceful walk’ into Barker’s Pool.
Last weekend, the right-wingers were outnumbered by campaigners from One Sheffield Many Cultures, Unite Against Fascism and residents as they attempted to lay a wreath for murdered soldier Drummer Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death in Woolwich, London.
Police were out in force to keep both parties separate in what was described as a ‘challenging operation’.
Commander Chief Superintendent David Hartley said: “It was disappointing reasoned attempts to allow both groups to achieve their objectives were initially resisted, but I’m pleased the event passed without significant issue or disorder.
“I was proud of the officers policing the event who showed a high degree of tolerance and understanding.”
Police had to start negotiations between the opposing sides when members of the Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster divisions of the EDL had their access to the memorial blocked.
Impassioned speeches promoting messages of tolerance were delivered from the steps of City Hall.
Robinson - real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - said he planned the second gathering after claiming to be ‘sickened’ when anti-fascist demonstrators disrupted their plans. Unite Against Fascism and One Sheffield Many Cultures are planning another counter-demonstration.
Meanwhile shopkeepers have expressed fears they may have to close their businesses this Saturday.
Jill Winton, of Plantology on Division Street, said: “We will shut up shop if there is trouble or if we receive police advice to do so.”
Anti-EDL protester Tim Plant, aged 61, who lives in south-west Sheffield, said: “One of the issues for me is that the people coming out are, to an extent, victims of what has happened to working class people in this country.
“They’re jobless and have awful prospects.”