The Scouts’ annual St George’s Day parade was cancelled because of the “March for England” and counter-protest held in Brighton today (Sunday 24 April).
Several hundred scouts, guides, cubs and brownies were disappointed after the Brighton and Hove district commissioner Dave Simon cancelled the parade for safety reasons.
Mr Simon said in a message to members, staff and parents on Friday: “Unfortunately I have decided that it is best to cancel Sunday’s event.
“There is a right-wing march, and a counter-march, taking place at a similar time. “Although this happened last year, the police are expecting significantly more participants this year.
“Although a lot of planning and preparation goes into our event, and it is the one time a year that we get together, I, and the other leaders who have contacted me, do not believe that it is worth taking a risk with the children’s and young people’s safety.
“We are now considering how we replace this event so that our members can participate in the annual renewal of their promise.”
It would have been the first St George’s Day parade since Brighton District merged with Hove and Portslade to form the Brighton and Hove District Scouts.
In the event, about 300 people took to the streets either to support or oppose the March for England today which started at noon.
About 350 police officers were on duty for the march and protest.
Eight people were arrested, mostly for public order offences.
Sussex Police estimated that about 150 people – many of them chanting the name of the English Defence League (EDL) – marched from Brighton Railway Station to Victoria Gardens, arriving there at about 1.15pm.
And about 150 protesters against the march took a different route from the station to Victoria Gardens where they held their own rally.
The counter-protest was organised by Brighton and Hove Unite Against Fascism.
Both groups made their way back to Queen’s Road and dispersed at about 3pm.
Sussex Police called on the British Transport Police and neighbouring forces for support, saying that organisers of the counter-protest had not told the police their intentions.
Sussex Police said that those arrested were
- Two men, 54 and 48, both from Brighton, and a 20-year-old man from Worthing were all arrested on suspicion of refusing to protest in a designated area, an offence under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.
- A 23-year-old man from Brighton has been arrested on suspicion of affray.
- A 21-year-old man from Fareham, Hampshire, has been arrested on suspicion of using offensive language in a public place, an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act.
- A 23-year-old man from London has been arrested on suspicion of common assault, after allegedly spitting at another man.
- A 23-year-old man of no fixed address has been arrested under Section 14 for allegedly refusing to leave an area when told to do so by officers.
- A 43-year-old man who refused to provide his address has been arrested under Section 14 for allegedly antagonising opposing protesters.
Superintendent Steve Whitton said that the march and protest had caused minimal disruption.
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