Bolton council’s leaders yesterday took the opportunity to lobby the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson whilst he was on a visit to Salford, regarding the proposed EDL march on March 20.
The meeting was facilitated by MP David Crausby and was attended by the Chief Executive Sean Harriss and Leader of the Council Cliff Morris. They expressed their concerns to the Home Secretary regarding the proposed march and explained in more detail the reasons why they were requesting a ban.
Neither the council or the police have the power to ban a static demonstration.
The Home Secretary listened to all points made and agreed to a formal meeting next week between a delegation from Bolton and Alan Campbell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State responsible for crime reduction. The delegation will include Councillors Linda Thomas, John Walsh and Roger Hayes and the Bishop of Bolton, Chair of Bolton Faith Leaders Forum.
The Home Secretary also expressed his support for the One Bolton pledge, which is a commitment to celebrate community cohesion, while recognising diversity, launched as an alternative means for people to demonstrate peaceful opposition to EDL.
Council Leader Cliff Morris commented: “The council and its partners are concerned about the proposed demonstration, as the presence of the EDL in other towns has led to violence and disorder and caused local people to fear for their safety.
“We are pleased that the Home Secretary listened to our concerns and has arranged for us to meet with one of his ministers next week. At the meeting, we will do all within our powers to persuade the minister to ban the demonstration on grounds of safety and public order.
“In the meantime, we will continue to work with local organisations, communities and businesses to prepare for any potential demonstration, in order to minimise disruption and pledge the council’s commitment to community cohesion.”