Video: Peaceful protest against far right activist Tommy Robinson held hours before his planned visit to Burnley
Politicians, councillors, the public and anti racist campaigners stood side by side this afternoon in a peaceful protest just hours before far right activist Tommy Robinson was due to arrive in Burnley.
Led by Burnley Green Party councillor Andy Fewings, the protest was held in the heart of the town centre and shoppers and office workers on their lunchbreaks were invited to sign a statement speaking out against the visit.
For maximum impact the statement was enlarged and laid out on the pavement on a huge sheet of paper for people to sign.
Coun. Fewings said: "We want to stand together as a united force to show this man that he is not welcome in Burnley and we are firm in our belief that violence and racism have no place in our political landscape."
Representatives of a number of organisations including East Lancashire Stand Up To Racism and Unite were there along with Gina Dowding who is the MEP candidate for the Green Party, a Lancashire county councillor and a Lancaster City Council councillor who gave a speech.
She said: "We want this to be a positive event that helps people to realise there are other alternatives available to them rather than hatred and violence.
"We realise there are problems in communities that do need sorting such as environmental issues and inequality and the Green Party has the leadership to tackle those problems.
"We are offering solutions and hope not hatred and blame."
Several community leaders gave their backing to a statement released last week rejecting the 'politics of hate and division.'
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has visited several towns across Lancashire as part of his campaign to get elected as a member of the European Parliament.
He is standing as an Independent MEP candidate in the North West England constituency when the vote takes place on Thursday.
He is due in Burnley this evening a day after a visit to Preston saw around 600 people turn out to see him.
One of the volunteers at the protest this afternoon said she hoped that the people of Burnley would snub both Robinson and his beliefs, saying: "It is so important that people realise how dangerous this man could be and how it would be a disaster if he was elected."
Fiona Hornby of Stand Up To Racism said that the majority of people did not agree with Robinson and his views.
She said: "This is about standing up against horrible ideas that have been brought into politics and racism that has been brought into our communities that no-one in Burnley wants."