Dewsbury: £172,000 bill for 40 minute EDL protest

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Taxpayers were left with a £172,000 bill for policing a 40-minute demonstration by the English Defence League, the YEP can reveal.

Concerns have been raised about the strain on the public purse following the rally in Dewsbury in June.

It was the fifth demonstration in West Yorkshire since the EDL’s formation in 2009. A protest in Leeds in October 2009 cost £131,000 to police.

Kirklees Council leader Mehboob Khan said: “Forty minutes – that’s £4,300 a minute for policing.

“Every citizen has the right for their voice to be heard, but the EDL need to be aware that their demonstrations are taking money from essential frontline services at a time when the country is struggling.

“With £172,000 we could have kept two libraries open for a year.”

About 600 supporters of the EDL, which claims to protest against Islamic extremism, descended on Dewsbury in June for a rally outside the town’s railway station. Although they started to gather during late morning, the rally itself lasted only 40 minutes.

Fewer than 75 attended a rival demonstration by anti-fascists.

About 700 officers from West Yorkshire Police were drafted in to keep the peace.

The force said the operation cost £50,000 to plan and £100,000 in overtime payments and extra officers. British Transport Police, which was also involved, said its costs were £22,835.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The police operation was necessary to ensure the safety of the demonstrators and also to reassure the local communities and traders who were affected by the presence of the demonstrators.

“The policing operation successfully met its objective, in that the daily life of people in Dewsbury and the surrounding areas was not unduly disturbed by the presence of such a large number of demonstrators in the town.”

There were six arrests.

An EDL spokesman said: “The EDL have a right to demonstrate and therefore will use that right. Would Coun Khan make the same comments when other groups also demonstrate and cost the services money?

“There were a great many people from Dewsbury and the surrounding area that requested that the EDL come to the area.

“The EDL will continue to demonstrate until our voice is heard.”