HUNDREDS of Britain First supporters are expected to descend on Dudley on Saturday (May 9) but the leader has told anxious business owners "there is no need to cease trading".

The far right political party will assemble at Flood Street car park at 1pm before marching to the steps of Dudley Council House, Priory Road, to protest plans for a new mosque.

When the EDL held a similar protest in February, many worried town traders boarded up their shops and refused to open for fear of their livelihoods being vandalised.

But Paul Golding, leader of Britain First, said has encouraged businesses to remain open and insisted it will be a "disciplined" demonstration.

He said: "Britain First is looking forward to holding a peaceful protest march in Dudley. We are expecting hundreds of supporters to protest in the town and we have liaised heavily with the police to minimise disruption.

"We assure the local community and businesses in Dudley that we are a disciplined organisation and there is no need to cease trading on the day."

Mr Golding also appealed for local people to support the protest against what he described as "the proposed mega mosque".

Despite his reassurance many businesses remain unsure and are waiting until they hear what West Midlands Police have to say when they host a public meeting at Dudley Council House tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6pm.

Roger Scott-Dow, a Gornal councillor and owner of Penguin Suit Hire in Stone Street, said although he would prefer not to, he would "probably close".

He said he would make his final decision after the meeting but if the initial march route still stood, he would shut up shop.

Hayley Evans, manager of Connells Estate Agents in Stone Street said the business would be open during the morning, adding: "If anything we'll just close earlier, we'll play it by ear."

However owner of Direct Link Communications, Mohammed Sagir, said he would be closing his Wolverhampton Street shop during the say "for the safety of the public, customers and our property".

Britain First will not be the only group demonstrating on the day, a group of veterans are planning to hold a counter protest.

The group, who have issues with Britain First selling merchandise with the poppy emblem and using the image of murdered soldier Lee Rigby, plan to confront Mr Golding at the demo and present him with a letter outlining their concerns.

Another counter protest will be held by Dudley Unite Against Fascism, supported by Dudley Trades Union Council.

A Unity Festival will take place to "stand in solidarity with Dudley's Muslim community" who UAF say Britain First are "directly attacking".

Love Music Hate Racism will provide free entertainment from 11am to 3pm on corner of Castle Street and people are being encouraged to turn up and celebrate multicultural unity.

Jerry Langford of Black Country UAF has also extended a "warm welcome" to members of the ex military service group should they wish to join UAF on the day.

Meanwhile Dudley Central Mosque will open its doors between 10.30am and 4.30pm, with volunteers on hand to answer any questions from members of the public and facilitate tours of the venue.

Mosque chairman, Mohammed Aurangzeb said he saw this as an opportunity to send a clear message to all: “We have enjoyed harmonious relationships in this borough for over 50 years and we will continue in our efforts not to deviate from that.

"We will not let far right groups, wherever they are on the spectrum, to disrupt our normal way of life and dictate how we resolve issues that affect us locally.

"We stand united with all our communities and businesses who face social and economic disruption from these unwelcome protests.”

Dudley Council’s Chief Executive, Sarah Norman has reminded residents that the council has "no legal powers to stop a democratic protest".

She added that the Britain First visit would have no bearing on the ongoing High Court proceedings in relation to proposals for a mosque.

There will be no fixed road closures during the day apart from a series of rolling road blocks during the march.

Residents with any concerns or questions relating to the rally can call the council's dedicated protest line on 07824 824468.

Live coverage from the event will be online at throughout the day and on Twitter @DudleyNews1.