TOWN centre businesses have reacted with anger at restrictions which they claim will ‘cripple’ trade when the EDL come to Blackburn.

Final details of road closures should be confirmed in the next 24 hours, but shops close to Mincing Lane and Northgate are already preparing to lose customers.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s director of policy and communications Tom Stannard has met with 50 to 60 business representatives.

He said that although they were not all happy, they were ‘confident’ in the police and council operation.

He said the authority would be working to get Blackburn town centre ‘back to normality’ as soon as possible after the protest on Saturday, April 2.

The council said no businesses were being forced to close, but Fleming Square hairdresser Jeff Stone said he has been told that an 8ft barrier would be placed at either end of his street.

He said: “I’m fully booked that morning. The advice is people won’t be able to get past the barriers, but I’ll be demanding my right to be here.

"I’m absolutely seething. We cannot possibly give in and let this protest close us down.

“How exactly is this protecting my freedom as the EDL claim?

"What the heck have we got to protest about in this free country of ours?”

Alexandra Sagar, assistant manager of Eastham’s Florists, on Cathedral View, said she was ‘very concerned’ at the restrictions, but staff would be working as normal ahead of Mothering Sunday, April 3.

She said: “We’ve not been asked to close, but there will be restricted access to the shop, only on foot via Church Street.

“We anticipate having 450 deliveries over three days, with 200 on Saturday.

“Our priority at the moment is to work with the council to find alternative premises to store our deliveries for the Saturday.

But we are concerned that very few people will want to come to Blackburn to shop that weekend.

“It is vital that our customers know we will be open as usual and will take phone and internet orders for delivery and that we guarantee to get our deliveries out.”