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Tension builds ahead of today’s EDL march in South Yorkshire

The EDL marched through Rotherham in May

The EDL marched through Rotherham in May

 

Hundreds of police officers will be on duty today as the English Defence League (EDL) hold their latest march in South Yorkshire.

Members of the right-wing group will be marching through Doncaster to the village of Hexthorpe, where there have been recent reports of community tensions with Roma migrants who have moved into the area.

There will also be counter-demonstrators from Unite Against Fascism (UAF) - but villagers have said they do not want either organisation to come to the area.

The demonstration is expected to cost South Yorkshire Police hundreds of thousands of pounds, with around 350 officers on duty.

It is hoped the majority of officers will be in attendance in a reserve capacity.

EDL demonstrators are expected to gather from 11am near Doncaster railway station, making their way along St Sepulchre Gate at 12.30pm to march at 1pm into Hexthorpe on Urban Road before listening to speeches at the park near Albion Terrace.

No road closures are planned and there are no scheduled changes to public transport services.

Doncaster Superintendant Peter Norman said: “South Yorkshire Police has a duty to keep people and property safe and the public can be reassured that this is our priority.

“We have no legal power to ban the proposed protest and have a duty to respect individual’s rights to protest peacefully.

“Careful, detailed planning and regular communication with protest groups has taken place and together with the council, we are making every effort to minimise disruption to the local community and to the road network.

“We will have extra officers on hand to ensure the protest passes peacefully and I wish to reassure local residents and businesses that Saturday’s operation will not affect normal policing in Doncaster.

“Regular face-to-face dialogue will continue with the community before, during and after the demonstrations. We continue to thank local people, particularly residents in Hexthorpe, for their cooperation and understanding.”

A statement by community group Hexthorpe Matters said: “At present, we have a large membership of Hexthorpe residents who are concerned about the problems in Hexthorpe. We do not claim to speak for everyone in Hexthorpe, we can only speak on behalf of those who wish us to. Two things have been made quite clear by the vast majority of our members, the first is that we do not want the EDL coming into Hexthorpe and marching on July 19. The second is that the proposed counter marches by United Against Facism and Doncaster People’s Assembly are every bit as unwanted and unwelcome.

“We believe that the marches will do nothing to resolve the social issues present in Hexthorpe, and could make the situation more volatile, both in the immediate and long term sense. It is us Hexthorpe residents who have to live here once the marches are over, and us residents who will have to try and pick up the pieces.

“Our members believe that the EDL and UAF are coming into Hexthorpe to capitalise on the media exposure Hexthorpe has had recently, not to help the residents in any way, shape or form. We will not support the marches, nor will we communicate with, assist or promote the groups wishing to march. As a community group we have to abide by what the community is telling us, and this has been communicated quite clearly.”

*Follow @chrisburn_star and @StephDonnyStar for live updates from today’s march.

 

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