Norwich pub bans English Defence League from meeting as EDL plans city march

Meetings of the controversial English Defence League have been banned at a Norwich pub after a string of complaints.

About 45 members of the group, which is associated with violent demonstrations, have met at the Marlpit pub in Hellesdon Road. No trouble was reported and another meeting was booked for last weekend. But after complaints about the meetings from an anti-EDL group, the pub's owners, Enterprise Inns, banned the EDL and the meeting was cancelled.

A spokesman for Enterprise said the licensee had been 'reminded of their obligations'. She said: 'We have spoken to the publican, who we understand has instructed pub staff to ensure no further meetings of the English Defence League are hosted at the Marlpit pub.'

It it understood the pub agreed to let the EDL hold the first meeting, but after receiving emails complaining, Enterprise Inns urged the landlady to not allow any more meetings.

Green Party councillor for Wensum ward, Lucy Galvin, said she was concerned by the EDL activity in the area.

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She said: 'Norwich has a long and proud tradition, stretching back centuries, of welcoming people of many faiths.

'The Marlpit pub is a friendly local where people get along well. There's no room here for groups which seek to set people against each other and cause trouble.'

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The EDL, which has an East Anglian division, has attracted controversy since forming in Luton in 2009.

On its website the right-wing group says it protests 'peacefully', but its marches are often marred by violence and arrests, along with counter-protests by anti-fascist groups and trade unions.

The Norwich division of the EDL, which has 75 members on its Facebook page on the internet, is also planning a march through Norwich on October 20.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk police said: 'Norfolk Constabulary is aware of content posted online about a planned event, but we have not been formally approached about this matter.'

On its website, the EDL lists the banning of Reverend Alan Clifford of the Norwich Reform Church from using a market stall on Hay Hill as one of the reasons its planned march.

The church was banned from using the stall by Norwich City Council after a complaint it was publishing 'hate-motivated' leaflets.

A city council spokesman said: 'We have been made aware of this planned event. This is a matter for the police with whom we will be liaising closely in relation to any issues it may present.'

No one from the Norwich branch of the EDL could be reached for comment yesterday.

•What do you think? Should the EDL be barred from meeting in pubs and marching in Norwich? Write to us at Letters, Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email

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