TENSIONS could rise in the community if far-right group the English Defence League (EDL) is allowed to march through Walthamstow, critics claim.

Both the Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union and Trades Council have criticised plans posted online for an EDL demonstration in the area on Saturday August 18.

The EDL, which describes itself as an "inclusive movement" opposed to Islamic extremism, denies being a racist organisation.

But a spokesman for the WF Trades Council said: "There is no other reason that this organisation should come to Waltham Forest other than to seek to divide our multicultural community and to incite racial tension".

He added that plans were underway for an alternative 'We Are Waltham Forest' event on the same day, designed to celebrate the borough's multiculturalism.

Members of the Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union have also passed a motion pledging to halt the march.

Last September Waltham Forest was one of five London boroughs where marches were temporarily banned by the government, following concerns about a proposed EDL march in Tower Hamlets.

At the time, police said they had "specific intelligence" which suggested that the EDL demo could potentially result in "serious public disorder, violence and damage".

Waltham Forest has been subject to a variety of extremist protests in recent years.

In July 2011 fundamentalist group Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) held a march from Leyton to Walthamstow.

A small counter-demonstration was reportedly planned by the EDL and a small group of opponents heckled the demonstration, although they were separated by a line of police.

Left wing groups, unions and anti-fascist campaigners also held a demonstration in Walthamstow town square the same day, while the Forest Women's Interfaith Network held an inter-faith tour of religious sites.

A Met spokeswoman said: "Police are aware that EDL plan to hold a demonstration and an appropriate policing plan will be in place."

The Guardian is awaiting a comment from the EDL about its plans for the demonstration.

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