A PROTEST by the English Defence League in Farnworth passed off without major incident, police said.

There were 12 arrests, 11 from the EDL and one from Unite Against Fascism following the demonstration in Farnworth Park yesterday (MON).

Chief Superintendent John O'Hare of Greater Manchester Police, said: "Emotions always run high during protests of this nature but I would like to thank the communities of both Bolton and Farnworth for their patience and understanding and ensuring the event passed without incident.”

There was a massive police presence as about 100 EDL supporters arrived on two double decker buses from Bradshawgate in Bolton town centre at 1.15pm.

About 50 people took part in a counter-demonstration.

Both sides were kept separated and directed into enclosed steel ‘pens’ inside the park, where they were able to demonstrate for an hour before dissipating.

Police were out in force at both Bradshawgate and Farnworth Park.

Officers lined Bradshawgate where EDL members had gathered in pubs before they were taken to the park.

Mounted officers, dog units, and the force’s elite Tactical Aid Unit (TAU) were spread throughout the park and lined the entrance as the EDL were taken to a secure pen made of wire fencing.

The 50 counter protestors were also taken to their own secure pen.

Both sides stood behind metal fencing with 30m of open space separating them, with two ranks of officers stood there along with mounted officers and dog handlers, while a number of officers also filmed and photographed protestors.

The demonstration lasted about an hour before the EDL were escorted back on to buses and the counter protestors were allowed to leave shortly after.

One bystander, aged 63, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “I was surprised to see such a large police presence but it has been comforting as I would have felt a bit unnerved if there had just been a few bobbies.

“The group didn’t seem to be causing trouble but they were certainly getting a bit loud and I am not entirely sure they know what they are here to protest about.

“I think for some of the people it’s an opportunity to cause trouble and have a drink.”

Chief Superintendent O'Hare said: "A total of 12 people have been arrested for public order offences but I am pleased to say there has been no incidents of violence or disorder and the majority of protestors have now left Bolton.

"The success of this operation has been largely thanks to the meticulous planning by both Greater Manchester Police Police and Bolton Council and also the support of the local community.

“Protests of this size always present a challenge but thanks to the professionalism of everyone involved, and the tremendous support shown by local residents, the protest has passed off peacefully and without incident."

Chief executive of Bolton Council Sean Harriss, added: “As a result of us working closely with Greater Manchester Police, the demonstration was carried out without incident and together we ensured there was as little disruption as possible.

“I would like to thank Greater Manchester Police and local communities for all their efforts in ensuring that community relations in Bolton were unaffected by the protests.”