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EDL and UAF hold demonstrations in Luton

Demonstrations by the English Defence League (EDL) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) groups have begun in the centre of Luton.

More than 1,000 police officers from 14 forces are on the streets in an operation costing more than £800,000.

At 1300 GMT, EDL supporters set off from High Town to St George's Square, where speeches are due to be given.

UAF speeches began in Bury Park at 1230 GMT. Earlier, 150 UAF supporters linked hands at the railway station.

Earlier, police said people were gathering in High Town, without incident.

Traffic disruption

The protests mean there will be disruption to the town centre, they added.

Roads between George Street and Stuart Street were closed to traffic from 0700 GMT.

There will be severe traffic disruption in High Town Road, Midland Road, Mill Street and the bottom of New Bedford Road during most of the day.

Pubs and off-licences will be open but will stop serving alcohol at noon until the protests have finished in the afternoon.

Ch Supt Mike Colbourne, divisional commander for Luton, said: "Uniformed officers from forces around the country are supporting Bedfordshire Police in policing this event so that everyone who comes into town on Saturday, whether a protester or a worker or a shopper, feels safe to get on with their day.

"Luton will look very different to normal, and there will be some traffic problems, but the officers, their dogs and horses are all there with the same purpose - to look after the town."

Posted on Saturday 5th February 2011

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