Multi-cultural show of unity planned in city

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A multi-cultural celebration will be held tomorrow on the same day the far-right English Defence League plans to hold a protest in the city.

Council leader Peter Box, Wakefield MP Mary Creagh and Bishop of Pontefract Tony Robinson will be among the speakers at an event by community group We are Wakefield.

Organisers say they have the support of trade unionists, faith groups and community leaders for the event taking place from noon on Westgate.

Green ribbons will be handed out as a sign of peace and unity between communities.

Coun Box said: “I fully support the aims of We Are Wakefield in bringing communities and faiths together in a show of unity and strength. The name of the group sums up what this is about.”

We are Wakefield supporters gathered for a public meeting attended by more than 100 people at Lightwaves Leisure Centre on Tuesday night.

Bishop Robinson said: “This is a broad coalition of people from all faiths and no faith, of trade unions, teachers, shopkeepers, all of us coming together in a positive celebration of our cultural diversity. ”

Both events tomorrow afternoon are being organised as Wakefield Council hopes to attract shoppers to a Christmas market in the city centre.

Police said they had been in negotiations with both the EDL and We are Wakefield and planned to keep disruption to a minimum.

Chf Supt Andy Battle said: “Peaceful protest is lawful and everyone’s right and West Yorkshire Police’s role will be to facilitate this.

“I can reassure residents that officers will respond to anyone who commits a criminal act and they will be dealt with appropriately. The police will not tolerate damage to the city or acts of violence.

“I would encourage and ask residents not to become involved and instead to enjoy the many attractions planned in Wakefield this weekend including the Christmas market and the ice rink.”