Hundreds of hate-mongering protesters marched against plans to turn a former County Durham pub into a Muslim education centre.
Police lined the streets of Shotton Colliery as members of the English Defence League, and their supporters, returned to the former pit village for a second time in a year to object to the conversion of the Melrose Arms.
Waving St Georges flags and chanting anti-Islam and nationalist slogans the group moved through the village on Saturday afternoon, stopping at the war memorial to lay a wreath and observe a minute’s silence, before moving on to an area directly opposite the long empty pub.
Local businessman Kaiser Choudry, who owns the building, successfully applied to Durham County Council for the right to convert it, saying that the new centre would be open for all of the community to use.
However, many residents still hold reservations about the scheme – mostly over the effect it could have on parking and traffic congestion, but also that it could become a magnet for far right activity – and so far work has not begun on the project.
Down the road from where the EDL were corraled anti-fascist protesters, including vice chairman of the all parliamentary save the pub group MP Graeme Morris, held their own smaller counter demonstration.
“Their message of hate is not welcome in East Durham,” Mr Morris told the Sunday Sun. “We have good community relations here.”
A spokesman for Durham Police said one arrest had been made, for a public order offence, away from the main protest, and the afternoon passed off peacefully.