Police prepare for EDL march through town
Eight or nine goups are expected from ‘the far left to the far right’
Police said there could be be as many as 200 EDL protesters on the day and nine counter protests, with helicopters, horses, police dogs and riot police on standby if things turn violent. It is the first time the controversial group has marched through the town and follows similar marches through Slough, Berkshire and Aylesbury.
Initially police expected 250-300 protesters, but a similar EDL march in Birmingham on the same day has drawn some away.
Police have said significant resources will be used to ensure that all contingencies are managed, and the force expects there to be significant cost for the day.
At a briefing held at High Wycombe Police Station on Wednesday (March 30), policing area commander Superintendent Ed McLean said: “Lots of specialist resources will come into Wycombe, deal with the event, just as you see in London and everywhere else. They will all go home and they will leave us with the town to manage behind it.
“They’re all Thames Valley resources but they will come from across the whole of the force. So you will have public order officers, the type you will see with shields if that were required. They’re able to respond to a really peaceful protest to a violent protest, so they can do with all of that. There are likely to be mounted horses, there are likely to be dogs, there will be uniformed officers, PCSOs. It is possible that the helicopter may be used, so there will be all of the sorts of resources you expect for an operation like that to allow us to manage it out there, and sat behind it you will have an investigative team.”
Protesters are expected to arrive at the train station at around 1pm, and from there will march down Castle Street to Frogmoore where they will make a number of speeches.
Supt McLean said: “We’re expecting in total including the EDL over 1,000 people, so really significant numbers. From left wing organisations, the EDL, peaceful protests and various others. I think the church and the various groups here want to be there to hand out teas, coffees and cakes to show solidarity in the town.”
He added: “What we can’t cater for is a group of individuals who just decide to turn up on the day and protest.
“If anybody does want to do anything they need to register as early as possible because if you don’t we’re not going to be able to facilitate it, keep you safe and keep everyone else safe.”
The force has said it is as confident as it can be the EDL will stick to their word but Supt McLean said it is not impossible for a splinter group to break away.
Chief inspector Rebecca Mears added: “There is going to be eight or nine different groups from the far right to the far left.
“We’re not there to make a comment about the message, we’re there to facilitate free speech, freedom of assembly.”
Both officers confirmed the EDL intended for it to be a peaceful march. BUCKINGHAMSHIRE has the third lowest number of people claiming Job Seeker’s allowance in the country, Bucks Business First has revealed.
New figures by Bucks Business First show Buckinghamshire’s claimant count fell by 13 in February to stand at 2,285 or 0.7 per cent of working age residents, which is the third lowest rate among both the 27 county council areas and the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships
Buckinghamshire’s claimant count has fallen by more than a quarter over the last year, falling faster than the national rate for the first time since March 2015. However, despite the fall at the county level, the number of Buckinghamshire wards where the claimant count is not below the national rate rose two to seven in February, with rises of six claimants in the Chiltern ward of Ridgeway, in Chesham, and the South Bucks ward of Denham North being enough to raise their claimant count rates by 0.3 percentage points to 1.8 and 1.7 per cent respectively.
This increase means the wards of Ridgeway and Denham North have been added to the five wards in High Wycombe.
At 1.9 per cent Oakridge and Castlefield (Wycombe) has the highest claimant count rate among the 108 wards in Buckinghamshire.
There were 305 Buckinghamshire residents aged 18 to 24 in receipt of Job Seeker’s Allowance in February, the lowest level recorded since comparable records began in 2006, having fallen 92.6 per cent since September 2009’s peak of 2,020.