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Almost £20,000 spent on policing English Defence League marches in Shotton, Deeside

ALMOST £20,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent on policing two anti-Islam protests in Deeside.

The English Defence League marched through the streets of Shotton in January and May to protest against plans to convert the town’s former social club into an Islamic cultural centre.

And a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the Chronicle revealed North Wales Police spent £19,366.13 keeping the peace.

The old Shotton Lane club, which was torched in a suspected arson attack in February – just days after the first EDL march – had been earmarked as a potential site for a new headquarters by the Flintshire Muslim Cultural Society.

Shotton councillor Ann Minshull said: “If any organisation wishes to march in protest and the police are concerned about public disorder then that organisation should pay for the policing and not the ratepayers of Flintshire.”

But she added: “I strongly believe everyone has the right to march in an orderly manner as we live in a democracy.”

County councillor Chris Bithell, a member of North Wales Police Authority, said: “They are a cost but it is part of our political freedom that people should be able to express their views and demonstrate if they wish. Whether we agree with the views or not it’s a price we have to pay.

“Demonstrations can go on without there being any particular problems, but they still need to be policed properly.”

Police spent £10,747.62 to cover the May protest and £8,618.51 to monitor the one in January.

A total of £16,939.44 across the two marches was overtime payments to officers. In January 91 officers were called upon and in May 163 were needed.

The marches were organised by EDL Deeside division member Graeme England to oppose what the group, which refers to itself as a ‘human rights organisation’, calls ‘militant Islam’.

Mr England told the Chronicle the EDL had no plans for future protests in Deeside at the moment.

“We work with the police to keep things as small as possible, keep costs low and cause as little disruption as we can,” he said. “It isn’t our aim to cost people lots of money – we just want our point to be heard.”

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