The Chief Executive of Peterborough City Council, Gillian Beasley, has urged locals to carry on regardless this weekend despite the threat of an English Defence League demonstration in the town as well as a counter demonstration which together have led police to shut roads and draft in extra officers.
The EDL, which claims to be non-racist but opposed to Islamic extremism, last marched through Peterborough in 2010. The organisation says it chose Peterborough for this latest march following a number of high-profile criminal cases in the city involving Muslims and young girls.
On its website the EDL says:
"The EDL will be demonstrating in Peterborough on March 29th in the hope of preventing Islamic extremism from once again being swept under the carpet."
The EDL march starts at 2 pm and will congregate at Peterborough Magistrates' Court on Lower Bridge Street. Peterborough Trades Union Council (PTUC) is holding a counter-march at 12:30 pm starting at Bishops Road car park and ending at Key Theatre car park.
President of the PTUC, Ron Graves, said:
"We are organising a peaceful event. There will be a small demonstration, and when we get to the Key Theatre car park there will be a few public speakers. It is better to express opposition to the EDL as a group, rather than alone. We want to deliver a clear public statement that Peterborough is a multicultural city, a happy city and a good city."
Most local people seemed unimpressed by the prospect of another demonstration. On Twitter one user said:
"EDL march in Peterborough today..#steerclear"
"Peterborough people, please dont let the EDL boneheads who are "marching" through our city put you off going into town. #shoplocal"
Police reinforcements have been drafted in from surrounding counties including Essex, London and Hertfordshire to keep order. Peterborough District Commander Supt Tony Ixer said he accepted people had a peaceful right to protest so long as disruption for local people was kept to a minimum. Ixer said:
"Our operation is supported by colleagues from 11 forces as well as specialist units. This will enable us to have sufficient resources to police the protests, as well as carrying out patrols in the city centre and key locations.
"There will be extensive fixed and mobile CCTV in operation throughout the city centre and we will take firm action and prosecute anyone who uses the right to protest as an excuse to break the law. We have thorough measures in place to ensure any unlawful behaviour is recorded and dealt with swiftly."