Shropshire Star

Britain First: Telford march cost taxpayer £83,000

Britain First’s march in Telford earlier this year cost the taxpayer more than £80,000, it can be revealed.

Last updated
Britain First protest in Telford. At the march was acting leader Jayda Fransen

Dozens of officers were at hand to handle the demonstration between more than 150 members of the far-right group as well as anti-fascist counter-protesters in February.

The operation cost the force a total of £83,007 – prompting a “clear” warning message for the group to stay away.

It comes as Donald Trump sparked outrage in the UK by retweeting three videos by the group’s deputy leader Jayda Frensen, who was at the Telford protest.

Britain First protest in Telford.
Britain First protest in Telford

Leader of the Tory group on Telford & Wrekin Council, Councillor Andrew Eade, accused the group of robbing the community of its resources and has insisted they are not welcome in the town.

“I compliment the police on doing a great job in successfully containing and policing the march, he said.

“I understand and appreciate the right people have to march and express their views.

“But there is no justification for this particular group to put forward their appalling views in Telford – costing us £83k. I think of ways that money could have been put to far better use.

“My message to Britain First is quite clear – stay away. You are not helping anyone at all. You’re robbing the community of its resources.”

On February 25, the group marched from Telford Central Station to Darby House, near Telford Shopping Centre, holding flags and singing songs.

Police officers, including many on horseback, lined each section of the route, ensuring that unsuspecting members of the public were kept to the side as the procession came through.

Chief Inspector Keith Gee said: “In preparation for the Britain First and counter protest on February 25, West Mercia Police engaged with the organisers of both protests and planned a proportionate policing response to ensure their right to hold a peaceful protest.

“Our policing response made sure that the protests passed without significant incident and the communities of Telford were protected from harm.”

Britain First protest in Telford. At the march was leader Paul Golding

It saw Britain First have a run-in with counter protesters – some of them wearing balaclavas and covering their faces while a woman in her 50s was hit by a missile.

Three counter-protesters were arrested on the day.

During the protest, chants of “there should be two Donald Trumps” gave way to The Lord’s Prayer before Ms Fransen said: “Why don’t they go back to the desert where they belong and take their backwards ideology with them?” she said.

“Islam has no place in my country, in your country – no place. Islam is not a religion that will ever integrate with us.”

Now, the far-right group has boasted of gaining hundreds of new membership applications after Donald Trump shared the anti-Muslim videos it had posted online – sparking a transatlantic row with Theresa May.

Britain First leader Paul Golding also said the group’s Facebook posts were reaching hundreds of thousands more users.

The Prime Minister has said Mr Trump was “wrong” to retweet the videos, condemning Britain First as a “hateful organisation” dedicated to spreading division and mistrust.

The extraordinary flare-up between the two key allies came after Mr Trump responded directly to her assertionthat his re-postings had been wrong.

In a trademark tweet, he wrote: “@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.”