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Sunday, 5 August, 2001, 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK
Carnival peaceful after march ban
police patrol
Police are maintaining a high profile
The Birmingham carnival has passed off peacefully despite fears of trouble after a National Front march was banned.

Police kept a high-profile presence as more than 50,000 people took to the streets for the annual two-day event.

There had been fears that members of the extreme right-wing group would cause friction after their planned march through the city was banned by the home secretary.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said there had been no trouble either during Saturday or Sunday.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Nick Tofiluk, of West Midlands Police, said earlier: "It is unfortunate that this year's carnival has been slightly overshadowed by the prospect of a National Front march but we welcome the ban."

Bir carnival
This year's carnival may be the biggest ever
The National Front had applied to stage the rally in the Stechford area of Birmingham on Saturday.

The far-right nationalist party has been accused of stirring up racial tensions in several northern towns in recent months, by holding marches.

There was also high-profile policing in Leicester where a Caribbean festival was being held on Saturday, the largest event of its kind in England behind the Notting Hill Carnival.

Birmingham's ethnic mix
White: 754,000
Pakistani: 66,000
Black: 56,000
Indian: 51,000
Bangladeshi:13,000
Chinese: 3,000
Others:17,000
(1991 census figures)
On Tuesday Home Secretary David Blunkett gave his consent to Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police to ban all marches between 1 August and 31 October.

Mr Blunkett has already banned all marches through Bradford, Burnley, Oldham and Blackburn for three months following race riots.

Chief Superintendent John Perkins, police commander in Stechford, said: "What's encouraging is local people don't want problems in their community.

"They don't want problems from outsiders creating havoc and then clearing off.

"It's given us some good links to build on."

Summer of violence

Several towns in northern England have seen racial tension erupt into violence in recent months.

Last month, Bradford in North Yorkshire endured some of the worst rioting seen in Britain for 20 years.

Up to 1,000 youths clashed with police, injuring more than 200 officers and causing an estimated 25m damage.

In Burnley, Lancashire, a weekend of violence in June climaxed with more than 200 youths attacking shops, homes and vehicles.

And in May, weeks of racial tension in Oldham spilled over into violence as hundreds of Asian youths clashed with officers, in a night described by police as "sheer carnage".

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Midlands Today's Colin Pemberton
"This year's carnival could be the biggest ever"


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See also:

31 Jul 01 | UK
NF Birmingham rally banned
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