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Brighton traders hit by protest
Traders have spoken out over the handling of a violent demonstration. Sussex Police has defended its decision to reroute nationalist marchers and counter protestors along a busy shopping street.
The march through Brighton on Sunday started at Brighton Station and was expected to continue past the clock tower and the seafront before returning to Victoria Gardens. But officers said that the strength of opposition in Queen’s Road meant they decided to divert the parade down Church Street. Shopkeepers in Church Street and surrounding streets said violent clashes between demonstrators impacted on their trade and upset staff and customers.
Andy Burnyeat, chair of the Brighton Business Improvement District, said he witnessed the scenes in Church Street and he thinks the police made the wrong decision. He said: “The police had a difficult job but once they saw the level of opposition to the march they should have put the marchers back on their trains at the station. They forced them down a narrow street full of unsuspecting shoppers and mayhem ensued.”
Gresham Blake, owner of the tailor shop on the corner of Church Street and Bond Street said his staff and customers witnessed the main outbreak of violence. He said: “I don’t know if they made the right decision in bringing the marchers down Church Street. It’s a tough call for the police but it’s always the independent traders that bear the brunt of any trouble.” Peter Allinson owner of Temptation Cafe on Gardner Street, and vice-chair of the North Laine Traders Association, said the event had a negative impact on his business.
He said: “We are at pinch point on the corner of Gardner Street and Church Street. Our tables were pushed and people were jostled. It’s not the Brighton experience I want my customers to enjoy. This march is so incongruous to the rest of the calendar of events we have in the city. My takings were significantly down on what they would normally be and it was very scary for my staff.”
But Sarah Stock, manager at the Manor Cafe on Gardner Street said that it was business as usual. She said: “We are set a bit further back from Church Street so we were not really affected.”
A police spokeswoman said: “The strength of opposition to the march and level of violence being experienced in Queen's Road meant for safety reasons it was decided to divert the parade down Church Street.”
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