Dewsbury counts the cost of demonstrations

HOLDING THE LINE: Police control the crowd after tempers flare during an English Defence League demonstration. Inset: EDL supporters are escorted through the town centre before the demonstration.
HOLDING THE LINE: Police control the crowd after tempers flare during an English Defence League demonstration. Inset: EDL supporters are escorted through the town centre before the demonstration.
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A DAY of demonstrations in Dewsbury could have cost police, the council and traders up to £500,000.

That’s the figure council leader Mehboob Khan quoted in Twitter messages which suggested demonstrators, not taxpayers, should foot the bill.

On Saturday, around 450 supporters of the far-right English Defence League gathered for a national demonstration in front of the town hall.

A counter-demonstration organised by Unite Against Fascism and the Trade Unions Council in Foundry Street attracted around 50 supporters.

Both sides were met by hundreds of police officers and in the end only five arrests were made.

The operation was similar to policing for last year’s Dewsbury-based EDL demonstration which involved around 700 officers and cost around £150,000.

Chf Supt David Lunn said: “The important thing is that the impact on Dewsbury and its reputation has been minimised.

“We’re not in the press for the wrong reasons of disorder that could have happened.”

Coun Khan (Lab) said the cost to taxpayers was ‘outrageous’ and that the EDL should pay.

Fewer than a third of market stalls opened and some shops stayed shut or closed early. Traders said they had lost between 50 and 75 per cent of their normal Saturday business.

Karen Wilson, from Bennett’s Butchers, said: “We had no trouble at all but we lost a lot of trade. The police were brilliant and they came round afterwards to check everything was okay.”

President of Dewsbury Chamber of Trade and chairwoman of Dewsbury Market Traders Association Trish Makepeace said: “The traders were quite angry at the lost of trade – quite rightly – but market traders were grateful for the council waiving rents on that day.”

She said everyone was full of praise for the police and council.

Chf Supt Lunn said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the public’s response. I can’t praise them enough for working closely with us.”

On Monday, Alexander Smith, 30, of Cemetery Road, Westtown, was jailed for eight weeks by Kirklees magistrates after admitting breaching an anti-social behaviour order and failing to comply with the directions of a police officer.

Two men from the West Midlands will appear at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court next week, one for possessing drugs and the other for affray.

Two men from Dewsbury were arrested and bailed, one for criminal damage and the other for possessing an offensive weapon.