Robust policing will be in place in Lincoln city centre on Saturday, January 18, for a planned anti-mosque protest and an anti-racism counter demo.
Lincolnshire Police and City of Lincoln Council said they have carefully planned resources to minimise the impact on residents and shoppers during the two protests.
The East Anglian Patriots will hold an anti-mosque protest in Lincoln from 12.45pm to 1.45pm, the second protest after an initial demo in the city in June 2013.
Extra police resources, council staff and contractors will be on the streets to facilitate the protest.
Superintendent Phil Vickers said: “People have the right to peaceful protest and Lincolnshire Police and its partners do not have the powers to prevent these events taking place.
“We have been engaging with the protest organisers to establish their intentions and our resources have been planned accordingly.
“Anyone suspected of committing a criminal offence on the day should expect to be arrested and be put before the courts.
“Police are specifically warning members of the ‘football risk groups’ wishing to attend this protest to engage in voilence and public disorder to stay away.
“There will be a significant police presence on the streets of the city and identified football group members will be monitored closely.
“Positive police action will be taken against any such individuals,” Supt Vickers added.
John Latham, Director of Development and Environmental Services at the City Council, said: “People have a right to protest.
“We have a responsibility to make sure that even if people are exercising that right, other people can use the city centre in the way they normally would, and we’re responding to it accordingly.
“What we would urge is anybody coming to Lincoln to participate in this to do so peacefully, whether it’s the anti-mosque protesters, or the counter-demonstration.”
Jean Flannery, President of Boultham Residents Association, the area where the mosque will be built, said: “The anti-mosque protest would appear to be simply a vehicle for the promotion of anti-Muslim feeling and far right views.
“We do not think, however, that counter demonstrations are useful, believing that they are more likely to fuel confrontation. We would sooner deny these self-styled patriots an audience.
“We neither need nor want such an invasion of our city,” she added.
The Lincoln Against Racism and Fascism (LARF) group are also organising a demonstration at the same time as the anti-mosque protest on Saturday.
The anti-racism demonstrators will assemble from 10.30am at St Martin’s Square at the top of the High Street, before the demonstration makes its way to Cornhill square for a rally at 11am.
Nick Parker, campaigner and LARF spokesperson, said: “We’ve been delighted by the support that we’ve received by ordinary people in Lincoln in the run-up to Saturday’s march against racism.
“We’ve got the backing of a range of local trade union branches representing thousands of workers including the FBU, GMB, NAPO, UNISON in the NHS and local government, and the PCS.
“We’re calling on everyone who is against the racism peddled by the likes of the East Anglian Patriots to take to the streets on Saturday and defend our community from far-right division.”
Due to the protest organised in the city centre, bus services in Lincoln may suffer some delays of up to one hour up until 4pm on Saturday.
A Stagecoach spokesperson said: “We are currently working with the authorities to ascertain when the procession will take place to ensure that any delays are kept to a minimum.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but unfortunately this is beyond our control.”