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Traders shut up shop for EDL demo in Rotherham

EDL supporters at a previous march in Sheffield last year.

EDL supporters at a previous march in Sheffield last year.

Businesses have chosen to close early or not open at all today because of an English Defence League demonstration in Rotherham town centre.

Hundreds of EDL supporters from across the country are due to flock to the town for a national rally.

Opposition groups, including Unite Against Fascism, are also due to gather in the town on the same day.

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EDL members claim the reason for their demo - which will involve them marching through the town ahead of a rally in All Saints Square - is their belief that Muslim men are responsible for the sexual exploitation of young girls in the town.

Leaked police and council reports in 2012 revealed the authorities had known about grooming and sexual exploitation for years but had failed to act because of sensitivities over the ethnicity of those involved.

More than 1,000 police officers from South Yorkshire and surrounding forces have been drafted in to work today.

Local officers have had their annual leave cancelled to boost numbers, with police chiefs earlier this week declaring they were ‘prepared’ for the event.

Businessman Michael Green, who runs Churchills Bistro in All Saints Square, is closing his business today.

He said he did the same when a similar large scale demonstration was held in the town two years ago.

His other town centre business, the Pantry Green restaurant, will be open for as long as there is trade, but may also close early.

“The last time there was a demonstration like this we closed and it cost us £2,000, so we will be facing the same this weekend too, which is a lot of money for businesses to lose,” he said.

“We are closing Churchills on safety grounds because it has a full glass frontage and we are expecting big crowds outside.

“When things like this happen people often stay away from the town so the trade isn’t there.

“People talk about the rights of people to demonstrate but what about the rights of businesses to trade and the rights of workers to earn a living?

“Times area hard enough for businesses these days without us having to bear the cost of this demonstration too.”

The demonstration is to be held from 1pm to 3pm today but supporters are expected to start to gather from 11am.

Related story: Video: EDL in South Yorkshire

Related story: Roads closed for EDL march

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