POLICE presence was high in Solihull over the weekend as the English Defence League (EDL) descended on the town centre.
The far-right group were handing out leaflets to passers by protesting against the renewed planning application for a Muslim burial ground in nearby Catherine-de-Barnes.
But, the EDL were also joined by approximately 40 people opposed to their presence in Solihull, including members of the left-wing Unite Against Fascism (UAF) group.
Officers from forces across West Midlands Police worked hard to keep the two groups separated and ensure that it was business as usual for the town centre – holding around 70 EDL supporters in Brueton Gardens, on Lode Lane, and their opponents in nearby Golden Jubilee Gardens, on Homer Road.
No arrests were made during the event but a small number of people opposed to the EDL’s presence were served with notices advising them that if they did not move to Golden Jubilee Gardens they could face arrest.
Chief Superintendent Alex Murray, responsible for policing across Solihull, thanked everyone who played a part in ensuring Solihull ‘remains a gem of a town’ over the weekend.
He added: “West Midlands Police has no power to ban groups from exercising their democratic right to express their opinions – in fact we have a fundamental duty to facilitate peaceful protest.
“In support of this, we have been planning for weeks to minimise disruption to those who live, work or were planning visit the town.
“Solihull has a hard earned reputation as a place where people from different backgrounds have really strong bonds.”
Our photographer, Jon Mullis, was on hand to caputure these pictures.
Anti-fascist supporters gathered in response to the EDL’s presence. 16.015.006.sol.jm7
EDL supporters young and old descended on Solihull town centre. 16.015.006.sol.jm13
An EDL supporter wears his flag with pride. 16.015.006.sol.jm12