MP asks for more powers over EDL

The EDL march makes its way through Rotherham town centre.
The EDL march makes its way through Rotherham town centre.
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The Government has been asked to grant local authorities greater powers to be able to restrict mass gatherings - after the English Defence League vowed to make repeated visits to Rotherham.

MP Sarah Champion has written to the Minister for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to raise concern about the impact more EDL demonstrations in the town will have.

Hundreds of EDL supporters staged a rally in Rotherham last Saturday while members of Unite Against Fascism staged a counter gathering.

Some 1,000 police officers were drafted in to keep the peace in the town - at a cost of £500,000.

Ms Champion’s letter also raised concerns about the impact on local businesses.

She said: “Rotherham is rightly proud of its diverse, multicultural heritage and many residents are concerned that repeated and unwanted events held by organisations such as the EDL do severe damage to its strong intra-community relations. Local Government, however, remains largely powerless to prevent this.

“Rotherham’s diversity is something which should be celebrated, not driven out. The EDL march was not welcome here this weekend, yet despite strong opposition, the council were powerless to prevent it.

“The EDL have now said they are considering coming to Rotherham on a regular basis. This will cause suffering to our communities and the many business owners who lost much needed income on Saturday.

“I have written to Eric Pickles because he has the power to ask for the

Government to foot the bill rather than the local council and police. This is important, as the cost of policing marches like the EDL march has taken away from spending on much needed services.”

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright said: “The cost of policing these events is escalating and with the Government still imposing cuts on policing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to balance the books and pay for these impromptu demonstrations.

“Local tax payers’ money should be spent on policing local communities and local needs – not on these protest rallies. It is time that the Government acted.”