Tuesday, 7 February 2012


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
EDL/UAF policing bill set to top £800,000
Police face a bill of at least £800,000 for Saturday's protests in Leicester by the English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism.
Chief Constable Simon Cole, writing for the Leicester Mercury's First Person column today, confirmed that the cost to the force of Saturday's demonstrations was roughly the same as it faced when the EDL came to the city in October 2010.
Mr Cole, whose force is having to cut millions of pounds from its budget because of spending cuts, said: "I am sure you would expect nothing less than for us to prepare in a professional way, but being diverted away from some of our other priorities is less than ideal."
Most of the bill was from bringing in police from 16 other forces.
Mr Cole, who put 2,200 officers on the streets on Saturday, also questioned whether, in general, protest groups should be required to contribute toward the cost of policing their demonstrations.
Businesses are also counting the cost.
Highcross general manager Jo Tallack said shopper numbers were down from about 80,000 on a normal Saturday to fewer than 50,000.However, she said: "There wasn't the fear of the unknown this time and retailers were able to plan ahead because of the way it was handled by the police and the council.
"We would rather these events had not happened because, commercially, they have not helped Leicester."
At the Haymarket Centre, manager Phil Toyne also praised police but reported the total of 20,000 shoppers on Saturday was 60 per cent down.
Market traders chose to stay away for the day.
One said: "I didn't think it would be worth opening the stall because town was always going to be dead.
"I walked into town on the day and I'd say we all made the right decision."
A retailer in The Lanes said the decision to close for the day had cost a potential £2,500 in earnings.
She said: "Things are bad at the moment for many retailers and we can't let things like this happen again."
Leicester City Council was still calculating its final bill.
In 2010 it spent almost £140,000 – largely for organising free diversionary activities for young people and families.
On Saturday, 1,800 people took up the offer of free swimming, almost 700 visited youth centres and 1,300 went to their library.
The cost to the council is expected to be lower than last time because on this occasion it did not organise a community event the day after the protests and did not pay for dozens of shops, businesses and bus shelters to be boarded up.

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