Anger as EDL plans return to Sheffield

Shopkeepers fear they may have to close as hundreds of English Defence League members plan a second gathering in Sheffield this weekend.

Tommy Robinson, leader of the far right group, said the event will take place from 1pm on Saturday and involve a “peaceful walk” into Barker’s Pool. Nearly 600 people on the group’s Facebook page said they would be attending.

Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, said he planned the second gathering after claiming to be “sickened” when anti-fascist demonstrators disrupted a planned walk and wreath laying “in memory of Drummer Lee Rigby” at the war memorial in Barker’s Pool last week. Robinson said his members were “just normal people” wanting to remember the murdered soldier.

Jill Winton, of Plantology on Division Street, said: “We will shut up shop if there is trouble or if we receive police advice to do so.”

South Yorkshire Police said they had no power to ban the gathering. A spokeswoman said: “Officers only have powers to ban marches or processions. This is only applicable where intelligence suggests serious violence or disorder may occur. The force fully understands the concerns raised by local people and businesses and is aiming to manage any event with as minimal disruption as possible.”

Coun Bryan Lodge, a Sheffield councillor who runs The Sandwich Shop on Division Street, said: “If I don’t open I am giving in to the EDL, but if there is trouble, do I want to be around there? I will see what advice comes from the police.”

Unite Against Fascism and One Sheffield Many Cultures are planning a counter demonstration in Barker’s Pool from noon on Saturday.

The Star, 5 June 2013