Four arrests, hundreds of police, a couple of hundred EDL supporters and many more in opposition

Four people were arrested as a major national demonstration by a controversial far-right group was held in Exeter.

More than 200 people travelled from across the country for the English Defence League (EDL) march in the city this afternoon.

But 700 people, under the banner of Exeter Together, paraded down the streets in the morning to condemn the EDL.

Councillor Pete Edwards, leader of Exeter City Council, hailed the counter demonstration as “great” for the city, saying it showed people were willing “to stand together against racism and fascism”.

A mounted police unit from South Wales were among a total of 400 officers from as far away as Birmingham who were tasked with patrolling the activities.

Chief Inspector Jim Gales, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “This sizeable event passed-off safely and we would say it’s been a success. We have had to intervene at times to prevent outbreaks of disorder, making a very small number of arrests.

“But what we have been able to do is to facilitate peaceful demonstrations and allow the inhabitants of Exeter to go about their daily business safely.”

A 21-year-old Exeter man, was arrested on Friday and later charged with the possession of an offensive weapon in a public place as well as the possession of a class A drug. He has been bailed and is due to attend appear before magistrates on December 3.

A 30-year-old Exeter man remains in custody after being found in possession of an offensive weapon on Queen Street this afternoon.

A 48-year-old Exeter man and another man were arrested separately for alcohol-related offences.

Some 225 EDL supporters gathered at the Locomotive pub on New North Road before marching along the road, down Queen Street to Rougemont Gardens flanked by police.

Angry exchanges took place between opponents and protestors who chanted “You’re English no more” and “whose streets, our streets” as they marched.

Exeter Express & Echo, 16 November 2013