A SALON owner has slammed police for not making firms aware of a protest march which he claims resulted in a “considerable loss of business”.
More than 150 boisterous members of the North East English Defence League (EDL) gathered at The Clarendon pub, in Tower Street, on Saturday before starting a protest march through the town centre.
But shellshocked staff at Towers Hair Design, which is next door to the pub, hadn’t been told the march was taking place.
And they say business suffered because of the police presence in the area from 9am and roads being closed as the marchers started to congregate.
Salon owner Dave Sutheran, 51, has since complained to the police and to Hartlepool Borough Council for not being made aware of the march.
He said the salon didn’t have one customer through the door on Saturday because of police cordons and the protestors - many wearing balaclavas - gathered outside ahead of the march.
Dave, who lives in the King Oswy area of town, believes the protest cost him £300 in lost business on what should have been one of his busiest days of the year..
He said: “Nobody wrote, phoned or contacted me in any way, shape or form to let me know of the march prior to us opening for business at 9am on Saturday and responsibility for my considerable loss of business is down to the authorities who sanctioned this march.
“Monday to Friday for us is a case of ticking over, Saturday is our main business day and the Saturday three weeks before Christmas is one of the busiest days of the year, yet we had no customers due to what was going on outside.
“It was a shambles, an absolute shambles and it should never have happened.”
Chief Superintendent Ciaron Irvine, of Cleveland Police, said: “We accept that there was a brief period of disruption for businesses along or near the route of the march due to the rolling road block and we regret this.
“But our chief priority was the safety of the public, of the marchers and of our officers.
“To minimise risks to the public certain areas had to be cordoned off and others were blocked by the marchers as they passed through.
“We did not specifically contact individual businesses along the route as this would have been a huge task and simply unachievable in the limited time frame.
“Careful planning and co-ordination led to the event passing off without incident which was our ultimate aim.
“Officers did advise larger groups such as management of the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre and the Hartlepool Licensing Association of the demonstration, giving them as much information as we had at the time.
“There was not a great deal of advance publicity to the march due to fears that more people would turn up, either as participants or as spectators leading to the potential for disorder or large scale disruption to the town centre.
“If it had not been for a slight delay in the march setting off and a counter demonstration on Church Square (which we receive late notification of) disruption would actually have been even less.
“I understand this gentleman has made a complaint to local officers and this is being looked into.”
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