The ‘£150,000’ demonstration criticised by Blackburn with Darwen Council leader (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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The ‘£150,000’ demonstration criticised by Blackburn with Darwen Council leader
THE leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council has criticised the estimated £150,000 cost to the authority and police of a far-right demonstration in the town centre.
A rally organised by the English Volunteer Force was held in Victoria Plaza, near the Waves swimming pool on Saturday.
At the same time, an anti-racism demonstration by community leaders and the Blackburn with Darwen United Against Racism group was held in Whalley Range.
Council leader Kate Hollern said she wished the authority could charge the EVL group for the costs.
She said: “Unfortunately we cannot bill them, but I would like to. It is money that could be better spent elsewhere.”
A large police operation was put in place to ensure the events passed without trouble.
Lancashire Police mounted branch was present and the force helicopter circled.
The Sun Hotel, in Astley Street, The Jubilee, in Blakey Moor, and The Postal Order, in Darwen Street, were named designated pubs for the far-right demonstrators.
Council officers were also involved in planning with police and businesses to make sure the event passed peacefully.
Coun Hollern said the EVF group of around 150 had planned to march along Jubilee Street and Darwen Street.
She said: “I told them they would have to pay for the road closures and they declined to do the walk.
“That is the tactic we will also use in the future.
“I am challenging policy on what we can and cannot restrict.
“One hundred and fifty thousand pounds is five officers for a year and given the announcement from the police about more cuts last week, it is not fair.
“Everyone has the right to protest providing they have a legitimate objective but for people who come from out of town to use smokescreens to try to disrupt our community is wrong and we won’t tolerate it.”
A police spokesman said: “The demonstration passed off peacefully. I would like to thank the community for their help and tolerance during this event.”
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