Second protest is expected in resort

English Defence League (EDL) anti-Islamic extremism protest in Preston
English Defence League (EDL) anti-Islamic extremism protest in Preston
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AN anti-fascist protest group has announced it will stage a rally in Blackpool on the same day as controversial far-right group the English Defence League.

Unite Against Facism (UAF) expects between 100 and 200 local members to attend the event which will take place as EDL members from across the country descend on the town on Saturday May, 28 for a national protest.

Paul Jenkins, North West organiser for the UAF, said their demonstration will be nothing more than a peaceful “anti-racist vigil”.

He said: “We want to show unity in the community is the best way forward.”

UAF will hold their protest at the public headland close to the Central Pier while the EDL demonstration is on the headline at South Pier.

The timings of the UAF protest are still under discussion.

EDL members, who say they are protesting against the police handling of the inquiry into missing Blackpool teenager Charlene Downes, are due to gather near Britannia Place at 10am before setting off for a short march along the Promenade to the public headland where a demonstration will be held from 12.45pm to 2pm.

Charlene, 13, disappeared in 2003 and two Asian men were charged with her murder and disposing of the body. They were later acquitted.

Chief Supt Richard Debicki, commander of western division, said the force had always prepared for two demonstrations.

Police say they do not expect there to be any clashes between the two groups.

He said police chiefs continue to work with council officers to ensure there will be as little disruption as possible in the town.

He added: “In addition to the EDL demonstration, the UAF have now also indicated a wish to demonstrate.

“The constabulary will facilitate any protest which is peaceful but we will deal firmly with anyone committing crime and disorder.

“Our role is about fair and balanced policing – we’re here to keep the peace, treat people with respect and dignity and uphold the law.”