Allowing EDL to march through Bristol is ‘best case scenario’, police claim

A security operation costing up to £1m and involving 700 police officers is being organised ahead of an English Defence League (EDL) march in Bristol.

The EDL will hold the march on 14 July – the same day as the city’s gay community holds its annual Pride festival at College Green in the city. Police have said their aim is to ensure both events are trouble free and there is protection for the public. The police operation will involve drafting in officers from Yorkshire, south Wales and the south of England.

Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police Colin Port said: “The English Defence League will march and at the moment we are trying to make contact with the people who are going to protest against them. We’re going to open meetings because we don’t know what they’re going to do, but we want to work with them.”

EDL’s demonstration is set to be at Castle Park which is less than a mile away from College Green.

Both groups chose the 14 July for their respective events despite talks between various parties including the police, the city council and representatives from both groups.

A number of Bristol MPs and councillors have also called on the EDL to stay away from the city fearing an outbreak of public disorder.

Mr Port said: “I can apply to have the march stopped but then what happens is that people can then pop up where ever they want. Frankly this is the best case scenario for us, we know what the march is and we are negotiating with the organisers. The main thing is people can demonstrate safely whatever side they are.”

BBC News, 14 June 2012