Activists ‘triumphant’ as EDL cancels plans to return to Stevenage

English Defence League rally credit: Oliver Pritchard

English Defence League rally credit: Oliver Pritchard - Credit: Archant

Activists are celebrating a “triumphant campaign” after plans for the English Defence League to return to Stevenage have failed to materialise.

Members of the opposing TUC rally credit: Oliver Pritchard

Members of the opposing TUC rally credit: Oliver Pritchard - Credit: Archant

The Stevenage branch of the Trade Union Congress organised a counter-demonstration to coincide with the EDL’s march through the town last month.

Both marches passed without incident but EDL organiser Mark Robinson had said the far-right group would return this weekend during a speech in Stevenage town centre.

The Comet has spoken to Stevenage Borough Council and the police – who oversaw the marches in June – but neither has been contacted by the EDL to arrange a return.

Stephen Glennon, secretary of the TUC Stevenage branch, said: “This is a clear example, in my eyes, of why it is important to publicly demonstrate against groups who encourage such unacceptable ideas – everyone who joined us can now celebrate a triumphant campaign against the EDL.

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“In some ways, I was actually pleased when they said they would be returning. I think they tend to make these big claims when their group’s morale is a little low and they need something to liven them up again. There is nothing here for them to come back to.

“One thing is for certain, if they ever do come back, we’ll be in a stronger position to arrange a countermarch than we were before. So many people joined us and lended their support to show that cultural division is not wanted in Stevenage and I’m sure many will be glad to know they’re not coming back.”

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Tom Harris, of Colestrete Close, was one of the 200-strong TUC group who marched last month.

He said: “I think this will be a huge relief for everyone who turned out to demonstrate against the EDL. I was distraught when they said they would be coming back. It’s great that so many members of the community were able to rally together and show them what we thought of them and their particular brand of politics.”

A spokesman for the EDL was unavailable for comment at the time of the Comet going to press.

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