Published: 15:03, 31 January 2020
| Updated: 08:29, 01 February 2020
Faith and community groups have come together to speak out against a far-right group after it promised a "wave of activism" during an unannounced meeting.
Britain First held a gathering for members at the Holiday Inn Express in Dartford, near the Crossing last weekend.
It posted on its website: "Today in Dartford, Kent, activists from the South East assembled to kick-start the New Year.
"Dozens of new faces were in attendance, eager to swing into action."
In a further statement the group said it had "planned endless days of action in numerous towns around the south east and across the country".
This included its ongoing Dover migrant patrols and anti grooming campaign, adding "new activists are signing up daily and support for our movement has never been greater".
It's believed to be the group's first appearance in the area in six years, having cancelled a meeting in 2014 following opposition from campaign group Dartford Locals Against Britain First.
The budget hotel said it did not discriminate based on the beliefs of its customers or guests.
A statement said: "As long as the activities of the guests/customer do not violate any laws or constitute a significant risk or potential harm to other guests or our employees, they are permitted in our hotels.”
The North West Kent Mosque in neighbouring Crayford has also been targeted by the group which stormed the place of worship demanding they take down "sexist" male and female entrance signs.
Community leader and Imam of the Mosque, Hafiz Rahman, said: "I find it very hard to believe that in the 21st Century we still have these kinds of groups spreading hatred to communities.
"We need to teach people that hatred is not the solution, but peace."
Other faith groups were quick to condemn the group's reappearance, including the Sikh Gurdwara in Highfield Road, Dartford.
Member Dali Rai said: “There are many of us who can still remember the days of when the BNP were here. It was dreadful. We want a peaceful and cohesive community.
"Many Sikhs living in the town have been here for most of their lives and have contributed much more to the community and society than many of these people intent on dividing society.”
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson contacted the police following the incidents and re-iterated his view the group were "not welcome in our town" following their re-appearance this weekend.
He said: “I have nothing but contempt for this organisation that seeks to divide our country and our town. They support nothing but hatred.
“It’s surprising they chose Dartford as a venue to meet given the good race and inter-faith relations we have here."
Shadow leader of the council, Cllr Sacha Gosine, said there was no place for the group's "divisive, hateful rhetoric" as he met with different faith leaders and dads from West Hill Primary School this week.
He said: “The Labour are horrified to learn that Britain First held a meeting in Dartford.
"This has always been an inclusive town with a thriving multicultural community who often come together to celebrate events such as The Festival of Light."
Britain First leader Paul Golding sparked controversy in 2018 when he laid a wreath at a Remembrance Day memorial service, after dignitaries had left.
He was jailed the same year – alongside former deputy Jayda Fransen – for causing religiously aggravated harassment during a gang rape trial in Kent.
A video appeared shortly after Saturday's event in which Mr Golding, a former British National Party councillor for Swanley, delivered a speech on the grooming scandal in Rotherham.
Earlier this month it was reported he had applied for Conservative Party membership in neighbouring Bexley but this was blocked by the Bexleyheath and Crayford Conservative Association.