Worcester’s MP Robin Walker has thanked the city’s Police, business community and the public for their calm and supportive response to what could have been a difficult weekend, with the EDL returning for a second march in the city centre.
The march passed off largely without incident thanks to the professionalism and careful preparation of local Police teams, who had been working with local businesses through Worcester BID in the lead up to Saturday. Although a handful of shops and pubs took the decision to close temporarily, most traders remained open and reported that it was largely ‘business as usual’ as residents went about their weekends as normal.
There was plenty to keep residents and visitors alike entertained in Worcester over the weekend, including opening of an important art exhibition commemorating the Great War at the Cathedral, the brilliant ongoing Worcester Stands Tall giraffe trail in aid of St Richard’s Hospice, to the opening of the Premiership Rugby season at Sixways and the traditional Drumhead Service to commemorate the Battle of Worcester on Fort Royal Hill, as well as the Acorns Hospice summer fete which Robin attended.
Worcester Business Improvement District (BID) had been working with local traders and liaising with West Mercia Police in order to address the concerns of business owners and ensure that the High Street and surrounding areas remained as open and welcoming as possible on Saturday. Chief Superintendent Mark Travis had been leading the police response to the march, and he and Robin met with councillors, the Police and Crime Commissioner and representatives from Worcester’s Muslim community ahead of Saturday.
Robin also thanked the Worcester News for their #BestofWorcester social media campaign, which enabled local people to share their experiences of the many positive events happening across the city over the weekend.
Commenting after the weekend’s events, Robin said:
“I was very pleased to see that the sound preparations made by the Police ahead of Saturday resulted in the day passing largely without incident and with no reports of violence. As I said ahead of the march, I completely share the abhorrence of the EDL expressed to me by many of my constituents, and firmly believe that their divisive views have no place in a welcoming and diverse community like Worcester.”
“In the end the turnout for the EDL march was a desultory 150 or so, far short of the hundreds they claimed were coming to Worcester. They are a diminishing organisation desperate for publicity and it is for this reason that the best response was not to confront them and play up their presence but to turn our backs on them and get on with enjoying our wonderful city. I could see as I was out and about in the city centre on Saturday that this was exactly the approach most local people were taking, and my thanks go to West Mercia Police, the City Council and Worcester BID for enabling a safe and welcoming atmosphere for everyone who was in our city this weekend.”