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Brighton police criticise plans to disrupt March for England
Police have said they are “disappointed” with anti-fascists’ plans to oppose a “patriotic” march.
March For England members are planning to walk from Brighton Station to Victoria Gardens on Sunday and police have warned that it is “inevitable” city residents will face disruption.
Anti-fascists groups have announced plans to line the route to “mock and harangue” the marchers.
But despite March for England’s supposed links to anti-Islamic protests and football hooliganism groups, the police have criticised the decision to try to disrupt the event.
Superintendent Steve Whitton, who will be in charge of the policing operation on Sunday, said he was “disappointed” that members of opposition groups including Unite Against Fascism had not told the force their plans for the day.
However anti-fascists said their plans had always been public and that officers had their contact details.
Supt Whitton said: “I am concerned that there may be some people attending this event whose intention is not to peacefully protest and whose behaviour will go beyond that which is acceptable.
“We have been in discussion with the organiser for the March for England and have agreed a route from the |railway station to Victoria Gardens where speeches will take place before the event closes.
“Unfortunately we have not been able to discuss plans for the policing operation and any plans for a counter protest although obviously we are very aware there will be counter protests on the day.
“This is disappointing.
“Engagement with opposing groups has been limited so far but we will continue to try to contact any such organisers to establish their intentions for the day.
“I would appeal to anyone who does want to protest to speak with police so that we can assist in giving everyone the right to peacefully protest while getting your voice heard.
“As in previous such events some disruption in the city centre is inevitable, particularly if both protest groups rendezvous at Brighton Railway Station and when the marches finish at Victoria Gardens. I encourage any counter protestors to go to Victoria Gardens as, for safety reasons, we will be restricting numbers at the railway station.”
A UAF activist, who did not wish to be named, said: “We have made public all of our plans.”
March for England organiser Dave Smeeton, from Portsmouth, said members of the group were not racists and had no links to EDL, but added that he had previously taken part in EDL protests.
He added: “We have been trying to do everything we can to make it a peaceful event.
“Last time it was them that were throwing bottles.”