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Monday, 19 July 2010

Violence flares at English Defence League’s Dudley protest

Admin : A revised figure is that 21 people were arrested in the disturbance in Dudley on Saturday.

Taxpayers and traders were today a facing a bill of at least £150,000 after a controversial protest brought Dudley town centre to a standstill.

Houses and cars were damaged, missiles were hurled at officers and steel fences were pulled down as trouble flared between demonstrators and police.

Shops were boarded up, the market cancelled and roads closed in preparation for the arrival of hundreds of English Defence League protestors from across the country.

Councillor Anne Millward, leader of the council, said today the protest had cost the authority more than £150,000 and businesses, forced to close for the day, had also been hit hard by the loss of trade.

By 2pm on Saturday there were around 600 protesters on the protest site at the car park in Stafford Street, less than half of the 1,500 police had been expecting.

They continued to chant and rattle the fencing until around 2.20pm, when a group of around 200 protesters broke through the gates and headed towards Greystone Street and Steppingstone Street where they met lines of police and vans.
Bricks and cans were thrown at officers forcing them to change into riot gear and police dogs were brought in as a back-up. After a 10-minute stand-off with police the protesters returned to the car park.

After speeches the protest drew to a close at around 3.30pm, but trouble flared again as several hundred tried to get to Tower Street where the Interfaith Network and Unite Against Fascism (UAF), were holding their own event. The EDL protesters were met by a barrier of officers in riot gear and after some 40 minutes most of them made their way towards their coaches.

The EDL said it was demonstrating against a planned £18million mosque in Hall Street but Dudley Council said protest was “pointless” as talks continue with Muslim leaders over an alternative to the scheme.

Councillor Millward said: “Yet again this group of outside extremists brought disorder and violence to our town.
“Honest, hard working people who run local shops and businesses have again been hit as hard as anyone.

“The local authority share their frustrations and expect the protest will have again cost the council in excess of £150,000.

“This was the same when the EDL protested in April, and is clearly a complete waste of local taxpayers’ money.”

Express and Star