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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Police ask for alcohol ban on day of demonstrations (UK)

 A restaurant owner in Luton says businesses in the town will suffer when the English Defence League (EDL) and Anti-Fascist marches take place.

Pubs and restaurants in Luton are being asked by Bedfordshire Police to stop serving alcohol from 12 noon on 5 February 2011.

This is in an effort to reduce the risk of violence between the two factions.

Council leader Hazel Simmons has said the town will be open for shoppers as normal.

However, David Westcott, who has a restaurant in Park Street, has already been told by police not to sell alcohol.

"They have told me to keep the place closed and not to sell any alcohol on the day" he said, "and they'd let us know when it was safe for it to be re-opened.

"Unfortunately, when you've got to employ staff you've got to let them know when you're going to be open so we've got to make a decision whether or not we open which is quite unfair because we'll lose the busiest day of the week."

"Basically Luton's going to close down for the day and the loss and cost to businesses is enormous.

"I think we should be allowed to trade and the police should protect the town at all costs so that the town can trade and not be held to ransom by people who want to march around. OK - they can air their views but the don't have to stop everyone else from working by doing so."

Bedfordshire police say they are not imposing a ban, but asking landlords on a voluntary basis. They said:

"Bedfordshire Police and Luton Borough Council are working closely with all communities, businesses and organisations to ensure our town remains peaceful.

"We are already in consultation with many groups and their representatives such as the Chamber of Commerce and licensees via Luton Safe and through the Community Cohesion Contingency Planning Group meetings."

BBC News