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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Key panto hit as EDL protest forces show switch

Hundreds of panto fans have been left disappointed after the Key Theatre revealed it would close on the day of the city’s controversial English Defence League march.

Theatre operators Vivacity announced yesterday that the 1.15pm, 4pm and 7pm performances of Jack and the Beanstalk on December 11 will be moved to December 12.

The closure is due to the EDL march, which will pass near the theatre as it moves from London Road to Peterborough Magistrates’ Court, in Bridge Street, between 1pm and 3pm.

Vivacity chief executive Kevin Tighe said: “We felt it was in the best interests of all concerned to cancel the performances and close the theatre on this date.

“We are sorry for any disruption caused to our customers’ pre-Christmas plans. This has been a very difficult decision to make but the welfare of our customers has to be the priority at all times.”

The march has already caused Peterborough United to bring its home match against Rochdale at London Road forward to December 10 to avoid a clash.

Some shopkeepers in the Rivergate Shopping Centre are considering shutting their doors on the day.

The Key Theatre closure means the Peterborough Trades Union Council (TUC) can finish its anti-EDL counter march in the theatre car park.

An estimated 2,000 TUC marchers – including members of Unite Against Fascism – are expected and will leave the Bishop’s Road car park, walk along Rivergate and arrive at the theatre as the EDL marchers head into Bridge Street - meaning the rival protesters will be just 100 yards away from each other.

But the TUC has dispelled fears that their protest will increase the risk of violence.

Peterborough TUC president Ron Graves, said: “We are not looking for a fight. We are marching peacefully to promote unity. We don’t want the EDL here, but we won’t be antagonistic.

““It will be properly marshalled by stewards.

“We felt that this route would create the least disruption.”

The TUC expects representatatives from all the major unions to be involved in its march, as well as local faith groups.

The TUC march is being promoted as a unity event to bring different cultures together.

The route for the march was finally agreed after a meeting between the TUC, Cambridgeshire police and Peterborough City Council.

Superintendent Paul Fullwood said: “We have a duty to support and facilitate people’s right to peaceful protest, whilst balancing this with the rights of those who want to go about their business.”

All theatre tickets for Saturday will be transferred to Sunday and arrangements will be made for those who cannot attend on Sunday.

To confirm attendance on the Sunday, call the Key Theatre box office on 01733 207239 by December 4.

Peterborough Today