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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Village nervous over race rallies
Welshpool
Police want to keep anti-Nazi supporters in Welshpool
BBC News Online reports from the mid Wales village set to play host to two rival race campaign groups.

Sitting at the foot of the Cambrian mountains, the village of Llanerfyl is just 12 miles up the road from tranquil, picturesque Welshpool - the town whose borders were allowed to grow in the 15th century as a reward for local leaders' loyalty to Welsh nationalist Owain Glyndwr.


There is an anxiety on the streets of Welshpool as police prepares to put 150 officers on duty

This weekend, however, locals are hoping nationalist protestors will not bring such notoriety to their otherwise peaceful home.

Dyfed-Powys Police's decision to ban the Anti-Nazi League's counter-demonstration to the British National Party's weekend-long festival in the tiny rural outpost is a response to the concerns of villagers.

They told chiefs they were worried about the threat of serious public disorder, and the chiefs took action, ruling ANL supports must stay in Welshpool.

Land use

But locals here remain nervous in the run-up to the BNP's "Red, White and Blue" event.

None more than farmer Euryn Astley, who mistakenly agreed neighbour and BNP chairman Nick Griffin could use his field for the bash.

He said he didn't realise there would be political elements to what had been billed a "family festival," but says he can't back out of a promise.

As well as the bouncy castles, fireworks and facepainting promised by Mr Griffin - a right-winger who raises pigs, chickens and four children on his Y Gribyn farm - a play called "White Slavery" will be performed by a BNP youth faction and ideological seminars will figure in the weekend's proceedings.

Violence in Bradford
Powys does not want a repeat of Bradford's violence
Mr Astley will not be attending the event just next-door, however. He says does not share BNP values and had not realised what the visitors would be indulging in.

There is an anxiety on the streets of Welshpool, in particular, as Dyfed-Powys Police prepares to put 150 officers on duty in both the town and nearby Llanerfyl, some on horseback.

The Mayor of Welshpool John Gwylt said he was relieved police have drawn up plans to keep the rival groups apart and that he was confident the weekend would pass without the village seeing any trouble.

That would be in stark contrast to recent disturbances at towns in the north of England, where warring ANL and BNP members let political theory spill on to the streets in the shape of consecutive nights of violence.

Such scenes are the last thing rural Wales is looking for. Already reeling from the verbal commotion raging over the Welsh language and excessive nationalism, ugly physical disturbances were not made for the Welsh hills.

Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


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