Hundreds of officers on duty for demonstration by far-right English Defence League in Walsall.
800 police officers will be on duty in Walsall on Saturday for a demonstration by the English Defence League and a counter-protest by various opposition groups.
Hundreds of EDL supporters are expected in Leicester Street, while the counter-demonstration will take place in Gallery Square. (below)
The far-right group have held several demonstrations in the West Midlands before, including Birmingham, Dudley, Nuneaton and Redditch.
But police insist people should not avoid the town centre and that shops and pubs will be open as normal.
Chief Inspector Mike O’Hara said: “Our main operational objective is to facilitate the lawful protest but also ultimately and most importantly to the people and traders of Walsall to ensure that people can go about their daily business and that’s exactly what we’re going to do on Saturday.
“We’ll have the policing resources in place and any criminal behaviour, any anti-social behaviour, will be swiftly and robustly dealt with.
“Especially in the current economic climate, it’s absolutely imperative to us that Walsall continues to trade as normal and has faith in the police and the policing plan that will ensure business as normal and minimised disruption”.
However, some traders who have spoken to Free Radio say they won’t be open.
Sana Ejaz, who runs a paper shop, said: “Both of our neighbours are closing and being the only people open in the Arcade it’s safer for us to close.
“We have the children with us as well on Saturday, especially because I’m alone at the shop, we don’t know what to expect from them.”
Meanwhile Walsall TOA taxi driver Kahn told Free Radio that many of his colleagues wouldn’t be working: “We don’t want them in our town.
“We’re live here in harmony, peacefully. We get on with each other Why do they want to come here?”
There will be some disruption to the following bus routes: 22, 51, X51, 74, 76, 77 & 935.