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March for England 2014 route confirmed
Next month's March for England is set to take place along last year's controversial seafront route - despite strong opposition.
Hundreds of nationalists and anti-fascist protesters are set to descend on Brighton and Hove for the event on April 27.
Last year's march saw battles across the city despite Sussex Police embarking on one of their largest ever operations, costing £500,000.
With the route stretching from the Aquarium roundabout to West Street, seafront traders were forced to either close or faced a severely disrupted service for the day.
It was hoped an alternative site could be found this year with the racecourse being among the suggestions.
Colin Burt, manager of two gift shops along King's Road, said: “We were given little notice last year. We tried to stay open but nobody could get to use. We lost out on pretty much a full day's trade.
“In this country we have the freedom to march and the freedom to say what we like.
“That is important and should be protected. But I also have the freedom to trade.”
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, leader of the city council's Conservative group, last year issued a notice of motion calling on the event to be moved away from the city centre.
He said: “We are very much against this and I have emailed those in charge to say as much.
“I don't think it is appropriate in our city centre. This is our shop window and this event no doubt puts people off coming to our city and spending money.
“It's also a disastrous day for those businesses along the front.”
Adam Chinery, of Brighton Watersports in King's Road, added that while it was far from ideal at least businesses were safe.
He said: “There was a huge number of police on the seafront so we felt well protected.
“Groups looking for trouble went away from the main route and elsewhere in the city.
“We miss out on a day of business but at least we are protected.”
Superintendent Steve Whitton confirmed officers had been speaking to businesses ahead of next month's march.
He said: “We have been engaging with people to talk about arrangements, including the route, which is currently being planned to be along the seafront from the Aquarium roundabout to West Street.
“We will continue to talk to residents, businesses and community groups to ensure that, as far as possible, people can continue to go about their normal business and there is minimal disruption in the city.”
In January The Argus reported that nationalist and far-right groups has taken to social media websites to arrange the annual meet up.
Some members of the groups, such as the Casuals United and English Defence League, pledged violence.
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