Keep St Georges day march in West Bromwich

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against the halting of the St Georges day parade in West Bromwich

St George parade off in Stone Cross
An annual Black Country St George’s Day parade will be scrapped following claims it has been “hijacked” by political extremists, council chiefs have decided.

Sandwell Council’s ruling cabinet have backed plans to withdraw the authority’s support for the march through Stone Cross, West Bromwich.

Council leader Councillor Bill Thomas pledged the council would continue to support St George’s Day celebrations in the borough but resources will instead be put towards organising a “static” event.

The changed event would likely be held in the town’s Dartmouth Park.

Around 15,000 people turned out for this year’s ninth annual procession through Stone Cross to Dartmouth Park on April 20, but council officers reported that it had been marred by political extremists.

Videos appeared on the internet including images of the British Ulster Alliance Flute Band marching in uniform at the parade.

Councillor Thomas believes the decision would allow the authority to stage a family-friendly event, which would be more easily policed.

He added he was “stunned” that a council in the heart of England had to deal with such issues marring the celebrations.

He said: “It is to be regretted that for whatever reason, and I’ve never understood why, that St George’s Day has become hijacked by an extreme fringe element who really spoil it all.

“This council is still committed to celebrating St George’s Day. We spent £10,000 a year to finance health and safety at the parade and in total we spend £34,000 on St George’s events.”

Leisure chief Councillor Linda Horton will now be asked to draw up proposals for an alternative St George’s Day celebration, expected to tie in with the existing party held in Dartmouth Park, before the new plans go back to council for approval in the New Year.

Parade organisers the Stone Cross St George’s Association will still be able to apply to the authorities for permission to stage a parade but would get no council cash towards it.

Association spokesman Trevor Collins today is “very disappointed” and added in the current financial climate it would be difficult for the association to raise their own finances to keep the parade going.