Shocking violence in Grantham as Unite Against Fascism and National Front collide

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Violence broke out in Grantham town centre this afternoon (Saturday) as activists and National Front supporters came head to head.

Members of Unite Against Fascism gathered outside the Tollemache pub from lunch-time, while members of far-right group National Front were inside.

Unite supporters chanted towards those in the pub and there was mild violence – a local videographer’s camera was smashed from his hands and a punch was thrown after a lone National Front supporter’s phone was slapped from his hand by a member of Unite.

At around 2.30pm, flag-waving National Front members came out and marched towards the Market Place. But as they stepped on to the green outside the Guildhall, fights broke out between the groups.

Police were seen to use batons to bring attackers to the ground and several arrests were made, while green smoke grenades were set off.

The violence spilled on to the road on St Peter’s Hill, forcing traffic to a halt.

Shops locked their doors and the shutter at the entrance to the Isaac Newton Shopping Centre was brought down in a bid to protect shoppers and the retailers inside.

A heavy police presence surged into the town centre to separate the two groups. The National Front was then allowed to march ahead to the Market Place where a rally was held. Unite members were held back but allowed to follow several metres behind, before being stopped in Butchers Row by a line of police officers.

Following the rally by the National Front – which was countered throughout by chanting and shouting from Unite activists – they returned to St Peter’s Hill where crowds dispersed.

A heavy police presence remains in the town centre as this story is published.