The English Defence league will be marching through the streets of Luton today, with a counter demo from We Are Luton.
The EDL have marched in Luton numerous times, an area known for racial tensions between ethnic groups. Bedfordshire Police said the EDL, which was founded in the town, would be banned from the town centre but this weekend's march will see them diverted away. Businesses have complained previous protests have damaged takings.
Bedfordshire Police have said “suitable locations close to the town centre have been identified for both protest groups to assemble and march. These have been carefully selected following detailed negotiations with everyone affected in order to achieve the aim of the policing operation.”
Because of the heightened tensions, a “Memorandum Of Understanding” has been signed with We Are Luton, and the EDL. Bedfordshire Police say this agreement “to ensure that both groups involved in the protests are clear about what is expected of them.”
The arrangements allow for EDL members arriving by coach and train to be directed to Park Street to form up under the flyover. The EDL march will begin at around 1pm, progressing into Cumberland Street and passing in front of the casino before turning right into Park Street West and on to the roundabout junction of Park Street and Church Street where the march will end and speeches will be held. However the EDL have told their members to get to Luton by 830am as a number of pubs are opening their doors early to accommodate the group.
We Are Luton supporters will be arriving by coach and train will be directed to Wardown Park from 10am onwards and will begin their march at around 12 noon, progressing along New Bedford Road (A6) to Telford Way, turning left onto the A505, left again into Liverpool Road, right into Collingdon Street, left into New Bedford Road and then back to Wardown Park where the march will end. The rally is expected to continue until around 4pm.
At the march it is expected that EDL leader Tommy Robinson will announce his defection to the British Freedom Party, a move criticised by many EDL members.