Hundreds of English Defence League and far-right protesters are to descend on the North East to protest the closure of an immigration office in North Shields. The right-wing group, which is accused of holding racist and anti-Semitic views, has said it is protesting the closure of a "much needed" immigration office on 1 August.
In its call for protests, the north east division of the EDL claims: "Over the last few years we have saw [sic] a massive rise in criminal activity regarding legal and illegal foreigners living within the North East."
Nearly 300 EDL supporters have already confirmed online they will be attending the march. The North Shields' UK and Visas Immigration office has been due to close since early June after the Home Office announced a reorganisation of immigration policy.
The anti-fascist group Unite Against Fascism , which devotes much of its resources to opposing the EDL, has said it will be holding a rival demonstration in North Shields at the same time. The group said: "Migrant workers, immigrants, asylum seekers and members of any one faith are not responsible for financial crises, hardship, cuts and unemployment.
"The North East has a well deserved reputation for solidarity and social cohesion. We pride ourselves on the diversity of our communities and our mixed heritages."
In a statement to IBTimes UK, Northumbria Police said "Members of the EDL have contacted police to inform us they plan to hold a peaceful protest in North Shields on 1 August. We have also been informed there are plans for a counter-demonstration to take place.
"We recognise members of the community, local businesses and the general public may be concerned about the potential impact these events will have and plans are in place to ensure disruption to the local community is kept to a minimum.
"The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental democratic right laid down by the European Convention and we respect this right. The force acts in a neutral standpoint and does not support or endorse any groups or individuals.
"Our role is to protect, reassure and support our communities. Our priority is the safety of everyone – those attending any events, those policing them, those protesting and the general public."
On 26 June the EDL held demonstrations in Lincoln. No arrests were made.