Hundreds sign petition for new laws to stop protests - as EDL visits Rotherham again

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Hundreds of people are calling for new laws to ban protest marches following another demonstration in Rotherham.

Traders in the town say they are suffering financially from repeated demonstrations from the EDL and other organisations in the town in the wake of the child sexual exploitation scandal.

Members of the EDL marched through Rotherham on Saturday afternoon.

Members of the EDL marched through Rotherham on Saturday afternoon.

It comes as the latest EDL march and counter-demonstration from Unite Against Fascism passed without any arrests on Saturday.

Charlotte Scothern, from the Patchwork Pig shop on High Street, set up the petition – which has already attracted more than 250 signatures – at the request of other town businesses.

It is calling for new legislation allowing marches to be banned or moved because of their economic impact.

Charlotte said: “It is not just the EDL, it is any group.

Members of the EDL marched through Rotherham on Saturday afternoon.

Members of the EDL marched through Rotherham on Saturday afternoon.

“The numbers have been low this weekend, but as soon as people hear about it they don’t want to risk it and they don’t come in.

“I don’t know if protesting is the right way to get their message across. There must be a way of tackling the issues and for town centre trade to exist at the same time, not one or the other.”

Louise Griffiths, owner of the Vintage Dolls Boutique on High Street, said: “I understand people’s freedom of speech, but it is when it starts to have an impact on other people’s lives.

“They are coming down and marching on Saturdays and who is actually listening to them? The only people listening are themselves, so what are they achieving?”

Members of the EDL marched through Rotherham on Saturday afternoon.

Members of the EDL marched through Rotherham on Saturday afternoon.

About 100 English Defence League members pro-
tested on Saturday, marching from the train station to Rotherham Council’s Riverside House for speeches.

The group was kept away from the town centre, where a counter-demonstration by Unite Against Fascism attracted about 30 people.

South Yorkshire Police thanked ‘the public of Rotherham and those taking part for their co-operation’.

The march follows the publication of the Jay report in August, which said at least 1,400 children in Rotherham had been victims of sexual exploitation – often at the hands of men of Pakistani descent – between 1997 and 2013.