EDL protesters in Batley received a lukewarm reception when they held their first national demonstration in the town.
Up to 350 people from across the country are believed to have taken part in the rally, which was held in Batley market place.
The rally, and a counter demonstration, meant a huge policing operation but the event passed off peacefully and there were no arrests.
But local campaigners and residents said that the far-right group were not welcome in the area and that the event had been a ‘huge waste of taxpayers money.’
Hundreds of police officers from Yorkshire, Humberside and beyond were drafted in to oversee the demo, which was called in protest at what the EDL say is the growing influence of Islam and English people “treated as second class citizens.”
A group marched from the Wellington pub into the square, where they gathered for just over an hour from 1pm to hear speeches, whilst surrounded by police.
Considerably smaller than the national demonstration that took place in Dewsbury in 2012, the group waved St George's Cross and Israeli flags while chanting ‘Yorkshire’ and ‘EDL’.
Most shops remained open for business during the event, except for Boots, which closed until 2.15pm and the Post Office, which did not open at all.
Meanwhile, a multicultural community event called We Are Batley, which was also monitored by police, attracted in between 60 to 100 people when it began earlier in the day in nearby New Way car park.
“It was important that we were here today to get the message across to the EDL that they are not welcome with their racism, violence and attempts at division.
“These streets belong to everyone in Batley.”
Batley West councillor, Shabir Pandor, who was also present, said: “It’s not good that they are here but the key thing is that, by looking at the turnout, that the community isn’t interested. They’ve had to bus people up from all over the country to attend. We don’t have the policing cost figures yet but it will be a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Residents who joined the event and came to watch the EDL rally also expressed their feelings towards the day.
Community activist, Shabbir Shaikh, said: “Many Asians were frightened here in the 80s but it’s definitely changed a lot for the better now. We’ve got a much more tolerant community who live together in peace and we want it to stay that way.”
But another said: “I just came to see what was going on but it’s hard to hear what they’ve been saying so I’m not sure what to think. They have a right to speak their mind and I think from what I know about them I do agree with them on some things.”
Supt Ged McManus, of Kirklees Police, said: “I want to pay my thanks to the people of Batley for the way they have conducted themselves. The events have passed off with very few issues and that has been helped by the behaviour of local residents who have not got involved and left managing the events to the police and colleagues at Kirklees Council.
“Demonstrators have the right to protest and we have to facilitate that right, but both the police and council have worked hard to minimise disruption to residents”.
Clr Peter O’Neil said: “Kirklees Council staff have worked closely in partnership with local communities, businesses, and police to keep Batley safe and open for business as usual today. Everyone has done a great job – thank you for all your hard work and support”.