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More than half a million pounds of public money was spent policing this year's March for England, The Argus can exclusively reveal.

The £545,000 total is up £52,000 on last year's bill with an average of £3,633 spent on each of the 150 nationalists taking part.

The Argus can also exclusively reveal a staggering 1,325 officers were on duty on April 27 - equating to nine officers per March for England protester. Last year 700 officers worked on the day.

The revelations have led city leaders to once again question the future of the event.

However, Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, Brighton and Hove Divisional Commander, defended the spending.

He said: "We assessed the resourcing necessary for March for England and counter protest based on our experience and the intelligence we received over the planning period.

"We went further in asking experts outside of Sussex to scrutinise our plan, the number of officers being used, and help shape the final operation and resourcing.”

An estimated 150 nationalists and 1,000 anti-fascist protesters gathered in Brighton on the Sunday following St George's Day.

Officers were brought in for the day from forces including Devon and Cornwall, Surrey, Metropolitan, Hampshire, Thames Valley, Kent, Dorset and the City of London.

But despite the numbers, which included 12 police horses and 16 dogs, there were running battles as violent splinter groups broke off from the main march.

A major flashpoint was the Dorset Pub, in North Road, where two gangs hurled glasses, tables and punches in front of horrified onlookers.

Another ugly incident saw two female police officers surrounded and assaulted.

In total there were 27 arrests.

The police bill, which was released to The Argus following a Freedom of Information request, totalled at £545,000.

More than £404,000 was spent on mutual aid with £83,000 paid out in overtime, £31,000 on food, transport, supplies and services and £27,000 on fencing and barriers.

Warren Morgan, Brighton and Hove City Council Labour group leader, said the money would be better spent fighting crime.

He said: “March for England are not welcome and not wanted, and I hope they will listen and stay away next year. If a ban were possible and workable we would seriously consider it.”

However, Jason Kitcat, leader of the council, warned against banning the event, adding that an organised march is easier to police.

He said: “While I wish MfE wouldn't come to the city, banning it won't stop participants coming here anyway, as they have the right to freedom of assembly.

“We continue to urge MfE to hold their events somewhere else. Until they do, the council and police will continue do everything possible to protect our community in the face of MfE participants' hateful behaviour and message.”

Meanwhile Geoffrey Theobald, leader of the council's Conservative group, called on counter-protesters to ignore the event altogether.

He said: “The cost to the public purse is simply not justified and to have nine police officers for every one individual on the march does seem to be over the top.

“However, all this could be avoided if the counter-protestors simply ignored the marchers - they would soon lose interest in Brighton and Hove and move elsewhere."

Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove, added: “Policing both sides of the annual March for England spectacle is costing my constituents a fortune every year and they are absolutely fed up with it.

“The marchers, and those wishing to fight with them, should be located far away from our seafront where no tourists or businesses are situated.”