A SEAFRONT pub landlady has defended her decision to let members of the far-right English Defence League meet in her pub.

Nicola Tiney, who runs the Borough Hotel, in Marine Parade, Southend, spoke out in the face of a social networking website campaign, urging drinkers to shun the pub.

Police were out in force at the weekend in Southend in response to reports the group’sEssexbranch was planning to meet in the town.

It later emerged members spent Saturday afternoon in the pub, prompting the setting up of a “Boycott the Borough Hotel” page on Facebook.

The reggae band Goldmaster Allstars have cancelled their July 6 gig, saying they “feel they can no longer be associated” with it.

However, licensee Nicola Tiney has insisted she is not an EDL member and said the pub had not been used for an official meeting.

She said: “It is not a racist establishment.

The EDL asked me if it was allowed in foradrink and I just told them I didn’t want any trouble.

“This is a public house. I can’t stop people coming in just because they are from a certain organisation.

“Business along the seafront isn’t good at the moment, so we have to take what custom we can.

“I’m not a racist. I get on with everyone who treats me with respect.

“I don’t support the English Defence League and don’t even really understand what it is fighting for.”

The heavy police presence ensured there was no violence, but at one point, an argument broke out between EDL members and anti-fascist protesters.

Ms Tiney says the EDL members were merely playing pool and happily mingling with other customers before the demonstrators turned up.

Since the incident, she has been removed the pub’s own Facebook page after it became a platform for protests against the decision to let in EDL members.

Aftershocks have continued, with Labour Milton ward borough councillor Julian Ware- Lane drawing abuse after posting a message, asking why the pub had let in the EDL. One EDL post branded him “a pathetic little man”.

He said: “I am not in favour of shutting down businesses, but if a pub is happy to allow an organisation like that to meet on its premises, it must live with the consequences.

“I believe in freedom of speech, even if I don’t like the EDL’s views. However, I’m entitled to criticise it if I chose.

“The EDL stands against everything I believe in and what the ward I represent stands for.

“Southend doesn’t want bigoted, thuggish people coming to the town. We want to live in harmony with our neighbours.”