Ahead of the English Defence League’s march tomorrow, Lancashire Police has given advice to anyone taking part.
Preston and South Ribble Trades Council and United Against Fascism is hosting a diversity event – One Preston, One Community - on the Flag Market at the same time as the protest and police say they will not tolerate any law breaking.
A police spokesman said: “The right to peacefully protest is a sign of a healthy democracy and we have a collective duty with our partners to facilitate that but we will not tolerate any law breaking. Our top priority is the safety of the community, people visiting Preston on the day, demonstrators and counter-demonstrators.
Police have also provided this map, showing advisory routes in the city centre during the event.
A statement on the Lancashire police website said: “We want to make sure that Preston remains open for business as usual on the day and that there is minimal disruption to daily life. We want people to feel safe and would urge local people to go about their business as normal.”
EDL protesters must meet on Old Vicarage Road at 12.30pm to walk to Birley Street and assemble there between 1pm and 1.45pm. Counter protesters must assemble on the Flag Market between 12pm and 2pm.
Police remind those taking part these conditions are under the Public Order Act and any breach could mean being arrested and prosecuted.
The statement continues: “Preston is proud to be a diverse and understanding city where people respect each other and get on well and we are asking people to bear that in mind if they are planning to demonstrate.
“Our role is about fair and balanced policing - we’re here to keep the peace, treat people with respect and dignity and uphold the law.”
There will be some parking restrictions in place throughout the day affecting Bishopgate, Old Vicarage, Tithebarn Street, Harris Street, Lancaster Road and Birley Street.
For information about temporary road closures visit www.preston.gov.uk/yourservices/transport-and-parking/roads-and-pavements/road-closures/temporary-road-closure-saturday-20-february-2016/
In publicity for the rally, the EDL describes Preston as ‘another creeping Sharia city’.
The group references claims in national newspapers that parts of Preston are ‘no-go’ area for non-Muslims. The claims were dismissed at the time as ludicrous by police and faith groups in the city.
Father Timothy Lipscombe, Vicar of Preston is supporting the diversity event.
He said: “It’s clear from our daily lives that people of all faith and cultures have respect and admiration for one another. We are united in our desire to see a continuation of love, peace and community cohesion.
“On Saturday people of different ages, and from all walks of life, will be meeting to celebrate are diversity and all the things that bind us together in being proud Prestonians.”
The Mosques of Preston are collaborating to provide free hot food and savouries, refreshments and desserts and a number of activities will take place including a multi-faith prayer and contemplation, the Manchester School of Samba will perform and a church choir will sing.
There will be free Arabic calligraphy and henna painting sessions, a street artist and roses, balloons and sweets will be handed out.
Moulana Khalid Ibrahim, Quwwat Education centre said: “We are tired of these people coming to try and divide our great city.
“We love Preston and we want to show that we can rise higher than them on a religious and community platform based on dignity, respect, peace and harmony.”
Peter Rankin, Council Leader, Preston City Council added: “Preston is a welcoming and tolerant city and down the years has welcomed people of many races and creeds who live and work harmoniously together.
“But however tolerant we may be we don’t welcome people who come with hate in their hearts who want to insult and harm our citizens.”