Drivers warned of traffic woes ahead of march

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MOTORISTS are being warned they face delays in Portsmouth tomorrow as hundreds of protesters take to the streets.

Portsmouth City Council will close Edinburgh Road in Landport from about 10am in preparation for protesters gathering there ahead of a planned event by members of the English Defence League (EDL).

The group’s members are to carry out what they describe as a ‘peaceful march’ in the city.

Edinburgh Road is set to stay shut from its junction with Anglesea Road and Alfred Road to its junction with Stanhope Road and Unicorn Road until 2.30pm.

However the stretch could be shut for longer if necessary. Buses will be diverted from the area and both park-and-ride and Greyhound services will use stops south of the city centre.

Superintendent Rick Burrows is leading the police operation.

He said: ‘We would still encourage people who want to come to Portsmouth [tomorrow] to come.

‘They should expect to have large numbers of highly visible police around, expect there to be protests and expect there to be associated traffic congestion alongside this.

‘But this will not and should not affect people going around their lawful business.’

Mounted police have been drafted in from Thames Valley and Hampshire Constabulary’s dog section will be there.

EDL members are expected to march in the Edinburgh Road area and near Gunwharf Quays, but the exact route has not yet been confirmed and could still change.

A counter-protest will be held in Guildhall Square. The war memorial there is to be cordoned off and each protest will be stewarded by its own organisation as well as police.

Supt Burrows added: ‘Through ongoing and long- standing engagement with protest organisers from both sides, we have designed in a non-confrontational protest with the EDL being designated a protest area around Victoria Park and the counter-protest being designated a protest area in Guildhall Square. This will be stewarded and managed by the respective protest organisers and will have police support.

‘Despite maintaining a significant capacity and capability, policing will be applied in a graduated fashion to make sure it is appropriate and proportionate to events. The public should expect to see policing in the finest traditions of UK policing, rather than expecting to see riot police.’

Meanwhile Muslim leaders in the city have appealed for a peaceful reaction to the protests.