Street rows force Nigel Farage no-show

UKIP candidate for Croydon Council Winston McKenzie said Nigel Farage would not have felt safe if he paid a visit

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has pulled out of a musical carnival organised by his party after supporters argued with protesters in the street.

A steel band hired for the event in Croydon, south London, refused to continue playing when told they had been hired on behalf of UKIP.

People carrying banners argued with party activists over Mr Farage's recent comments about Romanians.

UKIP's Winston McKenzie said Mr Farage had withdrawn for security reasons.

The anti-EU party had promised to bring a "strong and positive message" to the streets of Croydon, with a "bold and vibrant" carnival-style campaign event.

'Diminished'

The band Endurance Steel played as the protesters gathered, with one woman holding a banner accusing UKIP of "racism" after Mr Farage said last week that people would not feel comfortable if a group of Romanian men moved next door.

Arguments followed between the demonstrators and Mr McKenzie, a candidate in Thursday's council elections in Croydon.

Steel band playing The event was supposed to "bold and vibrant"
UKIP supporters and opponents argued in the street UKIP supporters and opponents argued in the street, watched by journalists

Mr McKenzie told the BBC: "They've diminished the meaning of racism... They've taken away the meaning of racism, which is a very potent subject."

When informed that UKIP was holding the event, Endurance Steel withdrew their services and packed up their instruments, saying they had not been told previously.

After about an hour of confusion, Mr McKenzie confirmed that Mr Farage would not attend, telling reporters: "He's a responsible family man and political party leader. Certain situations you have to avoid."

He added: "Croydon is unsafe and a dump."

Winston McKenzie UKIP candidate Winston McKenzie addresses activists
Steel band member packing up drum Some of the musicians expressed concerns about UKIP's involvement

After the rally broke up, a small number of UKIP activists continued to hand out leaflets to passing shoppers amid calmer scenes.

A Croydon party member, who would not give his name, said while he was disappointed not to meet Mr Farage, his decision not to attend was understandable.

He said: "He's one of the hardest working politicians in the country.

"The event has been frustrating. You expect a bit of barracking but this was not helpful."

Asked about his absence later, Mr Farage said he had never been "committed" to attending the event, saying he was "quite busy" running a national election campaign.

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