THIS newspaper has been taken to task by some members of the clergy and business community in Evesham.
In the letter below they express dismay about our report of a demonstration in the town by the English Defence League (EDL). Our original report is at the bottom of this article.
They register their distaste for the racially divisive policies of EDL – a distaste this newspaper shares. But they allow that in a democracy the party has a right to free speech.
So why then do they criticise us for reporting an event in a public place by an organisation whose activities have a track record of attracting violence?
The signatories recognise that our story was written with the “equanimity” we require of all our news reporting.
We allowed the EDL their say about what happened and included an assessment from the police, who said the event passed off “peacefully”.
Had there been protests about the EDL we would have reported them too.
Our report did NOT give the impression that Evesham is intolerant, and suggesting otherwise reads something into it that is not there.
We are a newspaper, not a public relations agency. Our job is to record the news, not give it a slant that suits one cause or another.
We commend our critics’ desire to see Evesham presented in a positive light. Indeed, we have ourselves promoted the town vigorously through the Abbey Bridge disruption and this week launch a new campaign, Grow In Evesham, to build on what has already been achieved.
Evesham is going places, but it does not require curbs on free speech to help it get there.
Our dismay at your report of English Defence League demonstration (also available here)
WE noted your report of the demonstration of the English Defence League (EDL) in Evesham’s Port Street (League holds a ‘peaceful' protest, Journal, March 27).
While we recognise that, in a democracy, organisations have the right to free speech, we were dismayed that it was reported in the Journal with equanimity.
Port Street is where there is a concentration of residents of our town from other parts of Europe and beyond. They bring business to the community, pay taxes and work hard.
As a town, we are keen to encourage the development of enterprise and to reverse the trend of local economic decline.
As a nation we have, for over two millennia, been a country of immigrants: Romans, Saxons, Jutes, Normans right up to the present day when we routinely eat Jewish fish and chips, Italian pizza, South Asian curry and Middle Eastern kebabs.
In Evesham next year we will celebrate the 750th anniversary of Simon de Montfort’s attempts to establish the first English Parliament.
De Montfort was a French nobleman whose movement began the process of the establishment of English self-identity, one of the many ways in which non-indigenous have contributed to the life of our nation, and continue to do so.
There is nothing we can do in a democratic nation to stop organisations such as the EDL coming to Evesham.
We do ask that it is not reported in the local press in such a way as to give the impression that Evesham is an intolerant or reactionary community, and that investment from any ethnic provenance is welcome, and that we are a town open for business.
Revd Andrew Spurr, Vicar of Evesham
Revd Dr Edward Pillar, Minister Evesham Baptist Church
Stuart Brown, Evesham Baptist Church
Revd David Haslam, Evesham Methodist Church
Revd Brian Holliday, Evesham Methodist Church
Sarah Hewitt, Missioner, Asum Aroup of Anglican churches
Anthony Rowland, Chair, Vale of Evesham Commerce and Tourism Association (Vecta)
Alan Jones, The Best of Evesham/Vecta
Louise Bugg, Birdseye Sports/Vecta
Peter Scott, Parkinson Wright Estate Agents/Vecta
League holds a 'peaceful' protest (from Evesham Journal, March 27, 2014)
A NUMBER of English Defence League members held a "peaceful" demonstration in Evesham over the weekend.
The Worcester division of the group says "a lot of research and investigation" went into planning the event which took place in Port Street on Saturday lunchtime.
About a dozen EDL members were believed to be present.
"Within the past couple of weeks a lot of research and investigation went into this," said the EDL spokesperson.
"It was simply a peaceful demonstration for a couple of hours."
He said the demonstrations received "a lot of support" from locals, adding there was "zero trouble".
"Anyone who did not agree with us that stopped to chat was very amicable and able to have a civilised discussion to share views," said the spokesperson.
"We handed out flyers about who we are and what we were doing."
Police were in attendance and confirmed the demo passed without accident.
“A small, impromptu EDL demonstration took place on Saturday afternoon in Port Street, Evesham," said Superintendent Mark Travis.
"Between 12.45pm - 2.20pm, 10-12 people gathered and those present were law-abiding and the afternoon passed off peacefully.
“Police officers attended to ensure the right to lawful protest was facilitated while those going about their business in Evesham were not inconvenienced.”
The EDL division had considered staging a demonstration in Worcester earlier this month postponed the idea in light of the recent flooding.