Protests over Grantham Islamic centre will be kept apart by police

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Police are preparing for the protests due to take place in Grantham on Saturday.

Road closures will be in place in the Guildhall area of the town as the location of a static rally by the English Defence League (EDL).

There will also be a counter-protest by a group calling itself the Grantham Solidarity Network (GSN), which opposes the views of the EDL.

At the heart of the protests is a planning application due to go before South Kesteven District Council next month for an Islamic community centre to be built in Mowbeck Way, Grantham.

The EDL demonstration will begin at around 1.30pm in Westgate, near the Blue Bull pub. The group will march to St Peter’s Hill where a static rally will take place.

Meanwhile, the GSN will hold a static meeting nearby in Avenue Road at around 1pm – the exact location of this is still to be agreed.

Both protests are expected to be over by 3pm, and they will be kept apart by officers.

Lee Freeman is an assistant chief constable with the force and will be in overall command of the policing operation on the day.

He said: “There may be some minor disruption in Grantham on Saturday and some people will wonder why the events are being allowed to take place. The police have no authority to prohibit peaceful protests and all the information we have indicates the organisers of both groups intend their protests will be carried out in a peaceful, lawful manner.

“We have met with and continue to work with the organisers of both groups to ensure that the events are safe and to minimise any disruption to the general public.”

Lincolnshire Police is working with agency partners which form the Strategic Co-ordinating Group, to:

* Facilitate the right for the protesters to protest in a peaceful manner.

* Ensure that normal business continues in Grantham.

* Reassure residents, visitors and business owners in the town to help them feel safe and confident that we will prevent any problems.

* Ensure the safety of any persons attending either demonstration.

Asst Ch Cons Freeman added: “Our overarching intent is business as usual. We are not expecting any problems or disorder but should any occur they will be swiftly dealt with.”

Some road closures in the vicinity of the static protest meetings will be necessary. Motorists and other members of the public are asked to follow the diversions signs or comply with the directions of the officers and staff of the force or multi-agency partners.