Protests planned in Cambridge on Saturday

PLANS are being finalised ahead of protests in Cambridge on Saturday (February 23).

Police are working closely with Cambridge City Council and a wide range of other agencies to ensure that demonstrations planned by the English Defence League (EDL) and local Unite Against Fascism (UAF) take place safely and peacefully.

The EDL is due to hold an assembly at Christ’s Pieces between 2pm and 4pm and is not expected to hold any form of march or procession.

The UAF is due to assemble at Petersfield at around noon before marching along the following route:

East Road, Burleigh Street, Fitzroy Street, Jesus Terrace, New Square, Christ’s Pieces, Emmanuel Street, St Andrew’s Street into Sidney Street, Green Street, Trinity Street, Market Street and Market Hill, before returning along the same route to East Road but then crossing over to Norfolk Street, Gwydir Street, Mill Road, and back to Petersfield.

During an intensive period of negotiations with the event organisers, an alternative route along Christ’s Lane was opposed by the police following consultation with a range of other agency representatives at the Cambridge City Safety Advisory Group.

As a result, police placed conditions on the route of the procession using powers under Section 12 of the Public Order Act 1986. Section 12 allows a senior police officer to place conditions on a public procession to prevent serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community.

Superintendent Vicky Skeels, the Cambridge City Commander, said there would be some traffic disruption but this would be kept to a minimum.

She said: “We are taking the planning for this event very seriously and are actively engaging with a wide range of communities and other agencies to ensure that we are fully informed of issues that may be relevant to local policing on the day.

“I can assure the public we will have sufficient police officers on duty and available within the community to provide a good policing level in Cambridge and ensure the protests are policed effectively.

“We will have additional police officers patrolling key areas in the city centre and also in areas where people may enter and exit the city by public transport or by private car. We will have additional staff patrolling the city centre and Mill Road area into the late evening to support local businesses in the night-time economy.

“At this stage we are unable to estimate the numbers of people expected to attend the protests, however, we will ensure there will be sufficient resources deployed around the city to maintain public safety and to ensure community and traffic disruption is minimised.

“While those taking part in the protest in the city will be allowed to express opinion and protest peacefully, we will not tolerate violence, incitement to hatred or other criminal activity.”

Leader of Cambridge City council, Cllr Tim Bick, said: “I believe one of the best things about Cambridge is that it is a multi-cultural and tolerant city where people respect each other.

“We are working closely with the police to support them in their preparations for the protests as we recognise the right for free speech and peaceful demonstration as well as the need to protect the whole of the community from any unlawful behaviour.

“Ultimately we hope the people of Cambridge will be able to go about their normal business and enjoy the city with minimal disruption.”

Anyone with information or concerns about the protests should contact police on 101.