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Thursday, 11 March 2010

‘Keep children out of town during EDL rally’ UK

PARENTS of all secondary school children are to receive a letter advising them against letting youngsters into the town centre alone on the day of a planned English Defence League rally.

While police and Town Hall chiefs have gone to great lengths to declare March 20 as “business as usual”, they are concerned about young people being in the town centre unaccompanied.

With that in mind, parents of all children at secondary schools in the town will receive a letter via the schools, setting out details of the EDL rally, and a counter-demonstration by the Unite Against Fascism group.

The wording of the letter is still being worked out, but The Bolton News believes the council is going to great lengths not to cause alarm.

Sean Harriss, Bolton Council chief executive, said: “We have been working very hard with community groups and we will continue to do so.

“We are confident that adults can make an informed choice about coming into the town centre, but we will be sending out letters to parents through the schools advising them about letting young people into the town centre on their own on the day.

“We have been working with the police and our partners in the community and offering them reassurance both in the lead-up to the rally and on the day itself.”

Police and council officers held a meeting with town centre businesses last week and are due to meet them again on Tuesday.

Bolton police commander Chief Supt Steve Hartley is working in close contact with Chief Constable Peter Fahy and the chairman of Greater Manchester Police Authority Cllr Paul Murphy. He said: “We have not advised businesses to close for the day, nor have we advised them to stay open. We will be providing them with the information as we get it and they can make an informed decision. The message is that it will be a modified business as usual.
“We are talking to other forces which have had EDL events in their town and officers who policed the event in Manchester will be working with us.

“We are taking on board the lessons learned from those events and working them into our operation.”

Greater Manchester Police was praised for the way it handled the EDL rally in Manchester in October.

This week, a letter signed by the town’s political and faith leaders, was sent to Home Secretary Alan Johnson asking him to ban the demonstration, on the grounds that previous EDL events have attracted disorder and violence.

Neither the council or Greater Manchester Police have the power to ban the EDL rally. The authority has also requested a meeting with Mr Johnson or his representatives to put forward their case in person. Previous attempts to get events banned in Manchester and Stoke have failed, although The Bolton News believes that Town Hall chiefs see the violent scenes at the Stoke rally in January as adding weight to their pleas.
The Bolton News