Dudley 'to ban' future EDL rallies

Image caption, The English Defence League held a protest in July in Dudley

Civic leaders in Dudley are lobbying the government to ban any future English Defence League (EDL) protests.

The council said recent protests led to "violent disorder across the town" which cost taxpayers more than £1m.

The Home Office has said it has no power to ban static demonstrations and can only ban marches if requested by councils and police.

An EDL spokesman said he did not wish to comment until he had seen the information the council had sent.

The council said recent EDL protests had not been static and had resulted in "major public disorder" causing disruption and financial loss to businesses and residents.

A dossier of evidence, including a pledge signed by 100 organisations opposing EDL protests, and letters signed by council bosses, MPs, traders and members of Dudley Central Mosque, have been sent to James Brokenshire, under secretary for crime prevention, the council said.

Les Jones, the council's deputy leader, said he believed in the democratic right to hold peaceful protests but that the protests in April and July were not peaceful.

"We are doing all we can with the Home Office to look at the law and see if there is any way future protests could be banned before they take place and cause further unnecessary disruption," he said.

The Home Office said all suspected criminal offences are investigated.

"Neither the police nor the Home Secretary have any power to ban static demonstrations aside from those on private property.

"And the Home Secretary has no power to ban marches unless there is a request from the local authority supported by the local police force," it said.

On 17 July, 21 arrests were made during a police operation at an EDL protest in Dudley - 17 for violent disorder, two for affray, one for a public order offence and one for possession of an offensive weapon.

Anti-fascist group Unite Against Fascism held a counter-protest against the EDL, which said it was against Islamic extremism in the UK, at the same event.

In April, nine people were arrested during EDL and Unite Against Fascism rallies.

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