Campaigners lobby for Bristol EDL march to be called off
BRISTOL'S cabinet councillors will be urged tonight to ask Home Secretary Theresa May to ban the English Defence League's forthcoming march through the city.
Protesters against the march will be holding a rally outside the Council House on College Green before the cabinet meeting at 6pm.
They will hand in a petition with 2,000 names who oppose the march and want it banned.
The EDL, which describes itself as anti-Islamist, are due to march from Redcliffe Wharf to Queen Square at 1pm on July 14.
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Paulette North, pictured, one of the petition organisers, said: "We had a huge response to the online petition and just goes to show that the EDL are not wanted in our city.
"We don't want them spreading their racism and anti-Islamic filth."
Ms North, a retired teacher, said planned marches in Tower Hamlets, London and Luton had been banned by the Home Secretary after protests.
"We want to get the same result here in Bristol," she said.
Meanwhile, the RMT rail union in Bristol has expressed fears about passenger safety on trains if the march goes ahead.
Branch secretary Gary Abbott said supporters of the EDL will meet at Bristol Temple Meads railway station before the march begins.
He said: "Our major concern is that this march is being proposed to be held on what has traditionally been the second busiest day of the year, with the transport network and stations being fully stretched dealing with all types of traveller, from senior citizens, to families with young children, all trying to go on their holidays.
"This date also coincides with Bristol holding its Gay Pride Festival and its police force being fully stretched with its commitment to the Olympics.
"Whilst we will always support free speech within this country, we are very concerned that this event will cause major health and safety issues, not just for our members, but also for the travelling public and the citizens of Bristol.
Policing the far-right march through Bristol will cost an estimated £500,000 of council taxpayers' money and involve 1,000 police officers with some travelling from as far away as Yorkshire.
Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said the cost would have to be paid from the Avon and Somerset constabulary's budget which is partly paid by council taxpayers and not from central Government.
Public order officers will have riot gear to hand if violence breaks out. There will also be dog handlers, police on horseback and specialist officers.
The police helicopter will also be used to provide officers with live TV coverage and spot any rival protests as they happen.