Rival demonstrators kept apart by police in Solihull

A large police presence was in Solihull town centre today to keep rival demonstrators from the English Defence League (EDL) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) apart as they handed out leaflets.

Around 70 EDL members held the leaflet distribution in Brueton Gardens on Lode Lane in protest of the third application for a Muslim cemetery in Catherine-de-Barnes.

A small number of the 40 anti fascism protestors were surrounded by police, after they tried to approach EDL members who were at O’Neill’s pub on Poplar Road – and informed they were being detained to prevent a breach of the peace.

They were escorted to Golden Jubilee Gardens on Homer Road where they were told they could continue their demonstrations.

Solihull Police Commander Chief Superintendent Alex Murray said: “West Midlands Police has no power to ban groups from exercising their democratic right to express their opinions. In fact we have a fundamental duty to facilitate peaceful protest.

“In support of this, we have been planning for weeks to minimise disruption to those who live, work or were planning visit the town.

“The EDL and anti-fascist groups have visited the town several times before over the years but this exercise drew significantly more attention than usual.

“Solihull has a hard earned reputation as a place where people from different backgrounds have really strong bonds. To preserve that reputation and to reassure people cornered by the EDLs and opposing groups presence in the town, we had a number of officers on hand to deal with any situation.”

No arrests were made during the event but a small number of people opposed to the EDLs presence in the town were served with notices advising them that if they did not move to Golden Jubilee Gardens they could face arrest.