A BAN on marches in Waltham Forest comes into force today (Friday September 2) following concerns over a planned protest by the English Defence League (EDL) in neighbouring Tower Hamlets.

The far-right group had wanted to hold its march tomorrow (Saturday September 3).

But Home Secretary Theresa May has decided to prohibit protests in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, Islington, and Hackney for the next 30 days after police said they were fearful violence could erupt.

A Met spokesman said the force had received "specific intelligence" that the EDL march could potentially result in "serious public disorder, violence and damage".

However the EDL has said it will hold a static protest in Tower Hamlets instead, which cannot be banned by law.

Anti-fascist groups, including many campaigners from Waltham Forest, have pledged to hold a counter-protest.

The march ban is the first of its kind since the The Public Order Act came into force in 1986.

In a statement, Ms May said: "Having carefully considered the legal tests in the Public Order Act and balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, I have given my consent to a ban on all marches in Tower Hamlets and four neighbouring boroughs for a 30-day period.

"I know that the Metropolitan Police are committed to using their powers to ensure communities and properties are protected. We encourage all local people and community leaders to work with the police to ensure community relations are not undermined by public disorder.'"

The Met's Chief superintendent Julia Pendry said: 'We have made this decision based on specific intelligence and information, and our message is clear, we do not want people coming into the areas to attend these events."

The ban does not apply to commonly or customarily held marches or funeral processions.

In July extremists group Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) held a march through Leyton and Walthamstow in which the EDL also planned a counter demonstration. There was a heavy police presence and it ended without incident.

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