By David Miller
POLICING a 40minute protest by farright extremists in Dewsbury cost more than £172,000, figures show.
About 600 English Defence League (EDL) activists were held in a pen created at the town’s railway station on June 11. A counter demonstration by antifascists attracted fewer than 75 people to a car park over the other side.
About 700 police officers were drafted in for a West Yorkshirewide operation to prevent trouble at the unofficial EDL protest.
Figures show that action cost £50,000 to plan and £100,000 in overtime to execute plus a further £22,835 in British Transport Police costs.
EDL supporters started gathering in the morning, with some marching from Batley, but the protest lasted only 40 minutes.
Kirklees Council leader Coun Mehboob Khan criticised the protests for taking cash from public services when the authority faces an £80m budget cut.
He said: “Forty minutes, that’s £4,300 a minute. With £172,000 we could’ve kept two libraries open for a year. Every citizen has the right to be heard. But the EDL need to be aware that their demonstrations are taking money from frontline services.”
An EDL spokesman said: “I cannot answer for the UAF as to why they choose to follow the EDL around. If they didn’t the cost of policing might not be so dear.”
He added: “There are no definite plans, as yet, for a return visit to Dewsbury.”
Unite Against Fascism spokesman Paul Jenkins said. “The blame for the disruption and cost brought to Dewsbury lay with the EDL. UAF did not hold a demonstration on June 11. We held a peaceful celebration of Dewsbury’s diversity, supported by trades unionists and others.
“Unlike the protest staged by the EDL thugs, which was heavily policed, there was a lowkey police presence at the UAF celebration. Of the six arrests made that day, there were no arrests at the UAF event.”
A police spokesman said: “The police operation was necessary to ensure the safety of the demonstrators. It was also to reassure the local communities and traders who were affected by the presence of the demonstrators.
“The operation met its objective in that the daily life of people in Dewsbury and surrounding areas was not unduly disturbed.”
POLICING a 40minute cost more than £172,000Friday 19th August 2011
By David Miller