BLACK Country MPs have slammed plans by the English Defence League to descend on Dudley this weekend.
Margot James, MP for Stourbridge, says Saturday’s planned demonstration, due to take place on Stafford Street car park in Dudley town centre, will result in costs to traders and police that are “completely unaffordable in the current economic climate”.
The recently-elected Conservative MP made the comments as she urged Home Office ministers Nick Herbert MP (police) and James Brokenshire MP (crime prevention) to strengthen the law giving police powers to ban rallies likely to pose a risk to public order.
She said: “Council taxpayers in Stourbridge and the rest of the Dudley borough want to see their money spent on essential public services and not on policing demonstrations by organisations like the EDL.
“The group has caused disruption to towns across the country including Dudley. A loophole that allows the EDL to call their activity a rally not a march so as to escape a potential ban should be closed.”
Meanwhile Dudley South MP Chris Kelly has also hit out over the EDL’s planned return to the borough, telling the group “we do not want you coming back to our town for a third time”.
He also applauded Dudley Council’s pledge to remain open for business on the day of the rally.
And he added: “Last time businesses lost a full day’s takings on the busiest day of the week. In addition to council owned premises being closed, the authority also had to spend money it cannot afford on ensuring the town was well protected.
“This time we have made it clear that we expect disruption to the town and our local economy to be kept to an absolute minimum through rigorous policing.”
West Midlands Police expect to draft in officers from other forces to ensure the protest passes off peacefully.
Police will be stationed across the town and there will be a heavy presence around the Stafford Street car park, where the EDL propose to assemble.
Officers will also be posted at the site of a counter rally being organised by Unite Against Fascism.
Dudley Council has confirmed just six roads in the town will be closed from Friday evening through to Saturday - and public facilities including the library, leisure centre, museums, zoo and cinema will remain open.
A number of worried town centre business bosses, however, have chosen to board up their shops and close for the day.
Bus services will be in use, but there may be diversions in place in the town centre.