POLICE have warned the public to avoid the city centre on Friday as environmental protestors plan to “swarm” and block a busy road.

West Mercia Police said there will be a “heightened police presence” as members of environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion plan to block one of the busiest roads in Worcester on Friday (September 20).

The group has not yet revealed which road will be blocked and will announce the location on Friday morning to coincide with a number of national youth and general climate strikes.

Councillor Alan Amos, Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member for highways, called the protesters “eco-fascists” and called on the “soft-touch” police to arrest them all.

He said: “The people of Worcester will now see what these eco-fascists are like, utterly selfish, keen to disrupt people’s lives and livelihoods, stopping people getting to hospital and GP appointments, and causing extra pollution due to the stationary traffic. These thugs know they can’t win their argument through the ballot box and are hell-bent on forcing their intolerant and unrealistic opinions on everyone else.

Cllr Amos criticised the police for allowing the protest to go ahead and the city’s Green Party for supporting it.

He said: “It is utterly disgraceful that the police are allowing this to happen instead of arresting them. This irresponsible appeasement will simply encourage these thugs to do it again now that they know our police are a soft touch.

“Yet again, it will be the law-abiding taxpayers who will have to pay for all this and suffer the consequences while the supine police just sit back and watch, leaving the public undefended who will rightly lose yet more confidence in them. By siding with these thugs, the police have again shown their complete disregard for motorists and the highways authority always working very hard to keep traffic moving.”

Cllr Louis Stephen, leader of the city council’s Green group, said the government needed to do more to tackle climate change.

Asked whether blocking city centre roads was the best way to get the message across, Cllr Stephen said: “It’s not an event organised by the Green Party but if they feel it is necessary, we are sympathetic with the cause and support their aims.”

West Mercia Police has advised the public to plan alternative routes and allow extra time for their journeys.

Superintendent Damian Pettit said police were working closely with partners to ensure minimal disruption.

He added: “The right to peacefully protest is a fundamental democratic right and our role is to ensure a proportionate policing response is put in place while preventing any crime and disorder that may occur.”

“While we anticipate a peaceful protest on Friday, we do expect this event to cause some disruption to our city centre road network.”