SATURDAY’S so-called white pride rally in Swansea has caused an unexpected breach of the peace — a public spat between the council and police.
The leader of the local authority has accused the police of going back on assurances that the event would not be allowed to go ahead — but police have said they are legally obliged to facilitate protest, and at no stage was the rally ever called off.
Around white pride 40 activists staged a rally in the shadow of Swansea Castle on Saturday afternoon, where they were met by a counter-demo organised by Swansea Trades Council.
Swansea Council leader David Philips said: “Let me be very clear — there was no misunderstanding over this rally — there was no breakdown in negotiations on our side.
“The police had made their position very explicit — the rally wasn’t to be permitted.
“What they actually did on Saturday was in complete contradiction to the assurances they had repeatedly given to myself, my authority and the local AM Julie James.
“I am extremely disappointed that despite their repeated assurances to the contrary, the police facilitated the rally to happen.”
He added he was going to complain to the South Wales Police commissioner, Alun Michael, and the force’s chief constable, Peter Vaughan, about what had happened.
Negotiations had been under way for a number of weeks between rally organisers, the council and police to find a suitable venue.
The Post understands the council offered the use of either the former Felindre industrial site off junction 46 of the M4, or land in Swansea docks, neither of which were acceptable to organisers.
On Thursday, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) Wales — which was formerly chaired by Mr Phillips — said the lack of agreement on a suitable venue meant the event was therefore off.
However, the Evening Post carried a story on Friday saying as far as the police were concerned, the rally was still going ahead.
The event duly went ahead, with two arrests being made on the day — both of members of the counter demonstration.
A spokesman for South Wales Police said at no stage had the rally been called off.
He added: “The police are legally obliged to facilitate protests within public areas.”