POLICE today revealed that next weekend’s EDL march in South Shields will be allowed to go ahead - but it WILL NOT go near Ocean Road.
Right-wing groups the North East Infidels (NEI) and English Defence League (EDL) are holding a march and demonstration in South Shields on Saturday, August 31.
There is also a planned counter-protest by anti-fascist groups South Tyneside Unites and Newcastle Unites.
Ocean Road is at the heart of the borough’s Muslim community, and people living in the street have appealed for the authorities to ban the protest.
At least one pub, Annie McCarthys in Albermarle Street, will not open during part of the day, in a bid to avoid any potential clashes between the EDL and its opponents.
Northumbria Police today revealed that the march will be allowed to go ahead - but those involved will be kept away from Ocean Road.
Following discussions between police and organisers, a route and event plan has been confirmed.
South Shields will be open for business, with shops and pubs operating as usual.
There may be some minor disruption around rolling road closures needed to facilitate the march.
The NEI and EDL will march from Mile End Road along Fowler Street onto Beach Road leading to Sea Road, with a short demonstration at Pier Parade.
Protesters will then be led back through the route, and will disperse at Mile End Road.
The roads will only be closed on a rolling basis as the procession marches.
South Tyneside Unites and Newcastle Unites will hold a static protest at Pier Parade.
Chief Superintendent Ian Dawes of South Shields Police said: “Public safety is our absolute priority, and our aim at all times is to facilitate these events and ensure they pass off peacefully with the minimum of disruption.
“There is a significant investment being made in South Shields, and there is a lot of positive support from the community here.
“Working together, we can all help keep South Shields a safe and pleasant place to live, work and visit.
“We have been working with our partners and local communities to ensure all concerns are listened to and action taken to mitigate any issues.
“Following negotiations with the protest organisers, it has been agreed that Ocean Road will be unaffected by the day’s events, and will not be part of the march procession or protest sites.
“We are also constantly monitoring the situation, and will continue to adapt accordingly.
“There will be extra police patrols out across the area to reassure communities and explain what the police are doing.
“The police act in a neutral capacity, and have no power to ban an assembly or protest which is arranged for a peaceful purpose, but we can agree on conditions.
“If the protest is not peaceful we will take action against anyone breaking the law.
“We also recognise the impact such events have on local communities and appreciate some people may be concerned.
“I want to reassure them that we are absolutely determined to maintain public safety across the area that day.”