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DEMONSTRATIONS: Keep them out

CITY leaders have called on the Home Secretary to intervene to prevent a clash between right-wing extremists and anti-Nazi protesters.

CITY leaders have called on the Home Secretary to intervene to prevent a clash between right-wing extremists and anti-Nazi protesters.CITY leaders have called on the Home Secretary to intervene to prevent a clash between right-wing extremists and anti-Nazi protesters.

Both the National Front and the Anti-Nazi League are planning to hold demonstrations in Peterborough city centre on Saturday, November 24.

It is also the date of a football match in the city between Peterborough and Reading.

But police and the city council have sent an urgent request to David Blunkett, asking him to stop the marches.

If the request made under the Public Order Act goes ahead, no public march except funeral processions can be held in the city for the next three months.

It is believed the National Front has decided to target the city because of tensions following the war in Afghanistan and the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Ross Parker. Four Asian men have been charged with his murder.

Deputy city council leader Cllr Ben Franklin said: "We have decided to apply to the Home Secretary for the National Front to be banned from walking through the city centre, and we are expecting him to agree with us.

"Once that happens, we can formally serve notice on the National Front.

"The Anti-Nazi League was also proposing to have a march on the same day, and Peterborough are playing Reading as well.

"These factors obviously compound the issue, and, if the march went ahead, anything could happen.

"There could be violence, and I have no hesitation in saying this should be stopped.

"Im not one for stifling free speech, but we have to protect the public at all costs."

A police spokeswoman added: "An application has been made by Chief Constable Ben Gunn to the city council to ban the proposed march by the National Front."

If Mr Blunkett agrees to a ban, the National Front could appeal to the courts under the Human Rights Act.

The act means everyone has the right to freedom of expression, unless it threatens public safety.

Harmesh Lakhanpaul, director of Peterborough Racial Equality Council, said: "We support this application and hope Peterboroughs communities will stand against the National Front."

Trade could be affected

SATURDAY, November 24 is an important shopping day for city retailers, coming just a month before Christmas.

Cllr Ben Franklin said that, if the march went ahead, there would be hundreds of police on the streets, as well as demonstrators, scaring away badly-needed shoppers.

In May last year, shops in Wisbech lost thousands of pounds in trade when they shut and boarded up their premises in anticipation of a National Front march which never happened.

The march was in response to the jailing of farmer Tony Martin, who shot teenage burglar Fred Barras at his home in Emneth, near Wisbech.

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