Multi-faith anti-racism event to run in tandem with Wellington EDL march
Anti-racists will hold an event celebrating the diversity of Wellington alongside a planned march by the English Defence League this weekend.
The far right group will be marching through the town for its first national demonstration of the year on Saturday.
The group last marched through Wellington in May last year, in the wake of national reports about child sexual exploitation in Telford.
About 50 EDL marchers and 40 counter-protesters turned out on that occasion.
As part of the anti-racism fair, there will be music, stalls and speakers in Wellington town centre from 11am.
Councillor Pat McCarthy, leader of the Telford & Wrekin Green Party, said it would be a chance to celebrate community unity and solidarity.
"Two years ago in May, the EDL acme to Wellington to divide our community and deliver their hate speeches," he said. "We, the residents of Wellington, effectively prevented them achieving their objectives.
"This was not because we object to freedom of speech but because we do object to our multicultural community being subjected to racist and hateful speeches whilst shopping and socialising.
"This Saturday the EDL will visit again. The day they have chosen this year is also the United Nations anti-racism day, so members of the ethnically mixed community people of Wellington will be in the centre holding their own peaceful event celebrating diversity.
"Our display of community unity and solidarity will be in stark contrast to the incoherent hateful chants and banners that are the stock in trade of these extreme right wing groups."
Groups from across the town will be getting involved in the anti-racism event, including Telford LGBT+.
A spokesman for the group said: "People should join us if they can. Let's show the EDL once and for all that racism, bigotry and phobia have no place in our town."
Police have said they will make sure the appropriate preparations are made for the march.
They said that although protesting is a democratic right, they would be on hand to prevent any crime and disorder.
Last year a number of Telford groups joined forces to ask the EDL not to attend the town.
A joint statement signed by councillors, Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Telford Unity Forum, Wellington LA21, the Rev Tim Carter of All Saints, Wellington, and Telford Muslim Forum said the march would not provide answers for victims or survivors of CSE.
They wrote: “As a strong united community we would ask the EDL and any other group to stay away from Wellington.
“The disruption to everyday business and the everyday lives of the law-abiding majority is unwanted and unwelcome."