COMMUNITY leaders have signed an open letter condemning plans by the far-right Britain First movement to hold a regional meeting in Southampton next month.

Politicians, faith organisations and trade union bosses are united in their opposition to the meeting, which is due to take place at a secret location on February 7.

Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, is among those who have signed the letter.

Daily Echo: Paul Golding, leader of Britain First, will be among the speakers when the party holds a meeting in SouthamptonPaul Golding, leader of Britain First, will be among the speakers when the party holds a meeting in Southampton (Image: PA)

Groups supporting the document include Southampton Stand Up To Racism, Southampton and South Hampshire Crime Network and the Muslim Council of Southampton.

Jayanti Shah, one of the city's leading anti-racism campaigners, has also put his name to the letter.

READ MORE: Britain First Southampton meeting: Police vow to 'monitor activity'

Southampton Stand Up To Racism - which initiated the protest - is calling on the venue to cancel the booking "rather than providing a platform" for Britain First.

Victoria Ugwoeme, the group's chairman, said: "In the spirit of peace, hope and togetherness let’s stand against any form of oppression or hateful politics.

"Our city has a long, shared history of multicultural values and diverse, vibrant communities and long may it continue."

Daily Echo: Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, is among the people who have signed the letterAlan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, is among the people who have signed the letter (Image: Newsquest)

The letter condemns Britain First's "extreme" views and says Southampton should "stand united in defending our multicultural and diverse city".

It adds: "The challenges faced by ordinary people and the hardship exacerbated by the cost of living crisis are not caused by refugees and migrants, or Muslims.

"Attacking and scapegoating sections of our community will only create division and fear.

"We must work together to create a fairer, more equal society. Britain First offers no solutions for Southampton and they are not welcome in our city."

READ MORE: Britain First leader Paul Golding 'beaten up in prison'

Speakers at the Britain First meeting are due to include the party's leader, Paul Golding, 41, who has twice been jailed over his activities.

Daily Echo: Satvir Kaur, leader of the city council, says Southampton is a proud and diverse citySatvir Kaur, leader of the city council, says Southampton is a proud and diverse city (Image: Stuart Martin)

An email sent to people who might be interested in going says: "Once you have confirmed your attendance, you will receive the meeting point and time via SMS and email.

"Do not share this email or post it on social media - it is for your eyes only. Please do not share any of the details in this email with anyone."

But one of the people to have signed the letter, Syed Rashidul Islam, Secretary of the Muslim Council of Southampton, said: "Why are they doing it here in Southampton?

"Southampton is a very diverse, multicultural city. All my life I've been in Southampton and I know the city very well.

"It was a bit of a shock when we heard about it. These things are nothing but troublemaking. It's nothing good.

"It always causes some kind of anxiety and issue in the community."

He added that the amount of signatures now shows the "sheer volume of outrage in society and how united and diverse we are".

Britain First campaigns against multi-culturalism and what it sees as the Islamisation of the UK, and advocates the preservation of traditional British culture.

City council leader Satvir Kaur has said: "Southampton is a proud, diverse city - it's this diversity that makes us modern, dynamic, talented, creative, skilled and so much more."

Southampton-based race and diversity consultant and founder of Black History Month South, Don John, told the Echo: “It is commendable that so many organisations and individuals have condemned the views of Britain First, however, the absence of the major institutions is noted.

"It is of some concern that Britain First sees Southampton as a favourable city to hold their regional meeting.

"Perhaps the city needs to be a little more robust in declaring their anti-racist position and supporting the needs of those who may have been subjected to the kinds of views and opinions that Britain First are advocating.

"A Race Advice Service could be one step towards that and perhaps those who signed the statement could translate those fine words into something tangible”

Full list of signatories, some of whom have signed in a personal capacity:

Alan Whitehead

Cllr Richard Blackman

Cllr Sarah Bogle

Cllr Tony Bunday

Cllr Hannah Coombs

Cllr Lorna Fielker

Cllr Barrie Margetts

Cllr Lisa Mitchell

Cllr Dave Shields

Cllr Alex Winning

Southampton Liberal Democrats

Southampton & District Green Party

Wyn Jeffery, Chair, Itchen Labour Party

Clllr Geoff Cooper (Test Valley)

Southampton Stand Up To Racism

Southampton & South Hampshire Hate Crime Network

Rob Kurn, CEO, Southampton Voluntary Services

Pete White, Project Manager, CLEAR Project

Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group

Nikki Walters, Chair, Southampton Action

Dr Stephen Sizer, Peacemaker Trust

Jake Radwell, People’s Pride Southampton

Syed Rashidul Islam, Secretary, Muslim Council of Southampton

Tim Sluckin, Hon. Secretary, Southampton Hebrew Congregation

Vincent Anthony Maria Harvey, Catholic Church

Mahadevan Ramanan, Hampshire Tamil Association

Paul Williams, Trustee, Winchester City of Sanctuary

Jayanti Shah, MBE

Dr Vesna Perisic, Principal Teaching Fellow, University of Southampton

Jimmy Hatherley, Managing Director, Unity Brewing

Jennie Formby, Unite the Union

Hayley Garner, Branch Secretary, Unite the Union, Southampton City and West Hampshire

Callum Williamson, Branch Secretary, Hampshire UNISON

Southampton Geographical (SE/6236) Branch - Unite the Union

Unite Community Southampton Area

Hampshire UNISON Retired Members

Southampton People's Assembly

Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Southampton

Board In The City CIC


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