‘Race hate’ protest set for town centre

Police at the scene as far-right groups stage an anti-immigration rally in Wigan town centre, as anti-racist protesters rally against their rally

Police at the scene as far-right groups stage an anti-immigration rally in Wigan town centre, as anti-racist protesters rally against their rally

Concerns have been raised about a far-right group’s plans to hold a “White Rights Day” in Wigan town centre.

The North West division of the National Front, which describes itself as a “radical racial nationalist movement”, has announced that it is planning on holding an event called a “White Rights Day” in the town on May 28.

It will be the second time in less than a year that the group has organised an event in Wigan after a march was held in September last year when around 30 National Front and North West Infidel members were met by anti-fascist counter-protesters.

A spokesman for Hope Not Hate, which has said it does not organise counter demonstrations but often attends to take pictures and notes, said: “We are aware of a march planned for Wigan in May and we are monitoring the situation.”

At the September march, which was billed as a protest against immigration, far-right protesters chanted “refugees not welcome here” which was met with shouts of “Nazi scum off our streets” from the counter protesters from groups such as the Liverpool Antifascists.

Scuffles broke out between both sets of protesters and the police and several missiles were thrown by both parties, causing damage to some shop windows,

The far-right protesters met outside the Last Orders pub Wallgate where they were kept for around an hour before being allowed to complete their march surrounded by a heavy police presence as the counter protesters tried in vain to prevent the walk.

Only one arrest was made during the march but he later explained in court that he had nothing to do with either the NF members of the counter protest but had been drinking in a nearby pub.

Some shops such as Totally Wicked were forced to close during the march and two of its windows were also smashed.

And despite the police being praised by town hall bosses for the way the march was handled, it is likely a similar event will cost the town as a result of people staying away and if shops are forced to shut their doors again.

Some residents have reacted with anger at news of another march.

Heather Store said: “My 14-year-old son and a group of friends got caught up in the last one - idiots were throwing coins and glass bottles.

“Credit to our town though and the police got control and two officers in particular took the time to move my son and his group of friends safely onwards and gave them sound advice about avoiding the area and, because they had to get home via public transport, when they estimated it would be safe to return to start their journey home.”

Sue Vickers wrote: “It would help if no one counter protested. Ignore. They won’t come back if they don’t get a reaction.”

Others questioned why Wigan had been chosen by the NF for another march. NF members have said they will meet at 1pm in Market Place. The NF was contacted for comment but did not respond.