BLACKPOOL traders have slammed a controversial rally on one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Shop owners said they lost thousands of pounds on Saturday as far-right group the English Defence League (EDL) marched through the resort.
Many were forced to roll the shutters down for the day as thousands of demonstrators and a police ring of steel saw the Promenade closed and 10ft high steel fences put into place.
And businesses which remained open reported a “very slow” day – on what should have been one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Police said they had made 10 arrests, mostly for people being drunk and disorderly, two for public order offences and one for possession of an offensive weapon.
Hoteliers said they had expressed “deep concern” at the rally being held over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The EDL had been convinced to move the demonstration to the weekend to avoid it clashing with the football season.
Confectioners, Sweet and Cuddly on the South Promenade, stayed open until mid-afternoon and served just a handful of customers.
Shop assistant Amy Robinson told The Gazette: “We have made a loss today – on what should have been the busiest day of the year.
“People have been scared to come out, especially to this end because we are so close to South Pier.
“As a small business we rely on holiday trade, it is our lifeline, it was a mad decision.”
Next door bosses at Fantastic Gifts said takings were down 80 to 90 per cent from the normal average bank holiday takings.
Owner John Yates added: “I’m furious at the timing of this rally, it has affected the whole town. I would normally stay open until 10pm but here I am closing up before 2pm, I must have lost about £800 today which is not small fry.”
FOR MORE ON THIS STORY SEE MONDAY’S GAZETTE