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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Relief as BNP pulls plug on annual Red, White and Blue festival

THE British National Party says its controversial annual Red, White and Blue festival will not return to Derbyshire this year.

People living near to the site of the three-day event, which cost Derbyshire Constabulary £500,000 to police last year, have spoken of their "considerable relief".

The festival has been held on fields off Codnor-Denby Lane, Denby, for three years.
But it attracted protests from anti-fascist groups across the country, with hundreds descending on the village to demonstrate. Several arrests have been made.

Officers were drafted in from Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire and the Derbyshire force's Chief Constable said he feared the cost implications of it happening again.

But the BNP has now announced that it will have no national festival this summer and will instead focus on localised social events.
That has been welcomed by anti-BNP campaigners and people in Denby village.

Joe Osborne, 71, of Breach Road, said: "It will be a peaceful weekend again. Previously we have had a lot of noise and nuisance from people, both on the site and outside it.

"It has caused an inconvenience for the past three years for residents in Breach Lane and Codnor-Denby Lane – people are fenced in, in their own homes, when it takes place.

"Now they will get to enjoy a normal weekend again."

The BNP said one of its reasons was the cost associated with policing the festival.

The party said it would rather see the money spent on "counter terror" operations.

Amber Valley borough councillor Lewis Allsebrook, who is also the Amber Valley local organiser for the BNP, said he believed the cost could have risen to £1 million.

Mr Allsebrook said: "If missing one weekend of fun and enjoyment at the Red, White and Blue saves the police enough funds to prevent just one terrorist attack, I think it is a better use of police resources.

"Perhaps the Red, White and Blue needs to take place in a county where the police are not hugely under-funded and not a hotspot for terrorist plotters.

"There is absolutely no chance of it coming back this year, but that is not to say it won't in the future," he said.

He added: "Running and setting-up the BNP festival is very labour intensive and can consume whole months of key activists' time."
John Lumsden, neighbour of site owner Alan Warner, said the past three years had been a "total nightmare".

The 68-year-old said: "I think the village is relieved and highly delighted.

"I think the BNP has lost so much money in the past few years, because people have put up so much opposition to them, that it's no longer viable.

"They have also had so many arguments in their own camp and a disastrous election campaign."
Last year, the Red, White and Blue festival attracted hundreds of protesters and police officers made 19 arrests.

Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon said the force spent in the region of £500,000 on policing the event, plus £250,000 in 2008, when 36 arrests were made.

After last year's festival, Mr Creedon asked the Home Office for funding for the events but is yet to receive a reply.
Musician Baby J, a volunteer with Love Music Hate Racism who helped organise protests against last year's event, said: "After being smashed in the elections, the BNP knows it would be a very poor turnout, as last year figures were down on what it expected.

"They know they're not welcome. It's horrible for people in the village to have it and the protest that comes with it. It's not fair on a village that size."
A Derbyshire police spokesman said they had yet to receive official notification from the BNP about the event.
Amber Valley borough councillor for Denby Jean Gemmell said: "It was not very popular. People were worried about what was going to happen and I had phone calls about it."

This is Derbyshire