Two people have been arrested after hundreds turned out to oppose a demonstration by the far-right in the Welsh town of Llantwit Major.

Around 20 members from the group Patriotic Alternative, founded by former BNP officer Mark Collett, turned up to oppose the council’s plans to house Ukrainian refugees at an old school.

But the group was met with fierce resistance from locals, who turned out in droves to reject the group’s message and show their support for refugees.

Patriotic Alternative supporters gathered with banners proclaiming ‘Wales is not a migrant camp!’ and ‘Britain is full’.

But they were vastly outnumbered by the local townsfolk, who brandished signs which read: ‘Llantwit Major together for peace, love, kindness and compassion’ and ‘Llantwit Major refugees welcome fascists not!’

Resident Aled Roberts told the BBC: ‘We as a nation welcome people. To see a protest like this against housing Ukrainians here. It’s repugnant to me as a Welshman.

‘I’ve heard that people have been trying to influence youngsters and people and that’s unacceptable. They have a right to protest as do we.

‘It looks like there’s a lot more of us than them. I just hope the protest remains peaceful.’

Another local, Rob Curtis, told WalesOnline that opposing refugees in the UK was ‘wrong.’

‘These groups have called themselves different names over the years. But they are still a fascist organisation if they are preaching hatred and division.’

Rob is a Green Party member and said he doesn’t believe the fascist group’s claims that they are concerned about housing and refugees.

‘I have campaigned for better housing, health services and education for years. These groups are never there. They say it’s about housing but it is racism.’

Hellana Hatfield, a human rights activist who runs an NGO for asylum seekers, told the publication: ‘We are here to deliver the message that refugees are welcome here in Wales and that fascists are not welcome. They have caused trouble elsewhere. Wherever they go, we will go.

‘The problem is getting worse with them stirring up hatred and division. At the end of the day we all come into this world naked and alone, and we leave naked and alone. It doesn’t matter what country you are from, what religion or sex you are. We are all people. If we can unite together, that is the best thing we can do.’

Most of the Patriotic Alternative supporters refused to be interviewed by the media, but told reporters at the scene they were ‘not Nazi’s.’

Police officers stood between the two groups until the crowd dispersed just before 1:30pm.

Although the protest was ‘mostly peaceful’, there were reports of skirmishes between police officers and a number of pro-refugee protesters.

Police later confirmed that a 20-year-old man from Swansea had been arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker and a 23-year-old woman from the Gwynedd area was arrested on suspicion of assault.

They did not reveal which side the detainees had been affiliated with.

South Wales Police’s Insp Mark Henderson said: ‘Officers have been present in Llantwit Major today to facilitate peaceful protest and minimise disruption to the wider community.

‘The protest was mostly peaceful, however two protesters were arrested.

‘There are no other reported injuries and the protesters eventually dispersed without any further incident.’

On Friday night the local church held a vigil to show their support for the refugees.

Fr Edwin Counsell told ITV, ‘Llantwit Major is a generous and welcoming community. This vigil places prayer and togetherness at the centre of our life, and my prayer is that we will invite God’s blessing and peace to our town.’

Plans to accommodate Ukrainian refugees include 90 accommodation units, which the local authority says would ‘provide high-quality, short-term housing for those in need, such as refugees from the war in Ukraine.’

‘With the war in Ukraine likely to continue for some time, these families now need more suitable accommodation. That is what the temporary homes in Llantwit Major will provide’, the council added.

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2023-03-25T22:35:36Z dg43tfdfdgfd