POLICE have launched a high visibility operation in York city centre in preparation for political protests expected this afternoon.

Barriers have been installed in St Helen’s Square, where a far right group is expected to gather, along with counter protesters.

North Yorkshire Police said yesterday it was planning a ‘heightened police presence’ after being notified about a demonstration in the square.

“People visiting York on Saturday should expect to see a heightened police presence and they should feel reassured by this,” said a spokesperson.

“Everyone has the right to voice their opinion. Peaceful protest is key part of UK democracy and we will manage the protest in line with our legal responsibilities.

“We would ask that both residents and demonstrators respect these rights and each other’s opinions, so that the event can take place in a peaceful manner without any incident.”

Anne-Marie Waters is said to be planning a protest in the square on behalf of a group called “For Britain”and York Stand up to Racism has said it plans to stage a peaceful counter-protest.

Cllr Denise Craghill, executive member for safer communities at City of York Council, said she recognised that everyone had a right to protest ‘where that protest respects the rights of others.’

But she went on: “As a Human Rights City, an Anti-Racist City and a City of Sanctuary, we cannot endorse extreme views focussed on hatred and disrespect for others.”

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