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EDL rally in Telford cost taxpayers £52,000 - for just 12 protesters

By Mat Growcott | Telford | News | Published:

Policing for a rally by the English Defence League in Telford cost the taxpayer more than £52,000 – about £4,330 for each of the 12 members of the far-right group who attended.

EDL supporters in Telford in April

There were more than 260 police officers in Wellington on April 13 to keep the peace between the small group of EDL members and the significantly larger counter-protest in Wellington Square.

The rally cost West Mercia Police £52,346, and saw 238 officers from the force lining the streets.

There were also an additional 27 officers from West Midlands and Staffordshire Police, and another 15 police staff in other roles.

More than 200 officers were in Wellington for the EDL march and counter protest

About 100 counter-protestors were out in force in opposition to the EDL, who gave more than an hour of speeches on the subject of child sexual exploitation.

Telford Safer Communities Chief Inspector Graham Preece said: “We do understand the frustration people may have about protests but it is important to stress that the right to peaceful protest is a democratic right which police do not have the power to ban.

"When considering our policing plans public safety is our utmost priority and we will always ensure our policing response is proportionate to ensure disruption is kept to an absolute minimum for our local communities and that they feel police are there to offer them reassurance.”

Challenging

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West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “The clear preference for myself, and I believe the overwhelming majority of our community, would be that the EDL did not come to Telford in the first place.

"However, if that is unavoidable, managing the situation is an operational matter for the police.

“I have been reassured that in planning for these events the police focus is always on keeping people safe and minimising disruption to the wider community in a challenging scenario.”

Officers from West Mercia, West Midlands and Staffordshire were used

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The EDL had been set to march along Church Street, round Market Street, Bridge Road, Queen Street and back onto Church Street.

But instead the small group were led straight to their designated area of Wellington Square.

The far right group had about four speakers, each met with jeers and boos from counter-protesters.

A line of police officers separated the groups, but also walked along the streets trying to provide reassurance to people trying to shop in all the noise.

The EDL have visited Telford on several occasions

After the protest was over, the EDL were escorted away and the counter-protestors disbanded.

It's the latest cost to taxpayers in Telford thanks to a march by a far-right group.

Britain First's visit to the town in 2017 cost West Mercia Police £83,007.

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

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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