ANTI-COVID protesters will return to Basildon to fight Government rules as they brand police “unnecessarily aggressive” in the force’s dealing of the demonstrations.

It comes after huge crowds descended onto the town’s streets on

Saturday to fight mask and Covid regulations.

Protesters says they wanted to get reassurance the hardship people now face - as well as delays in non-Covid hospital treatment which have resulted in preventable deaths - are outweighed by the scale of the pandemic.

There was also an illegal event held in the town and nine people were arrested after officers were attacked.

One protester, a 39-year-old Basildon resident who refused to give their name, said: “ I found the police response unnecessarily aggressive and purposely antagonistic.

“The protest was peaceful and I fear for our democratic society if this is how the force react to people’s right to question the leadership of those in power.

“Basildon appeared to have the largest network of people willing to protest in Essex.

“There will no doubt be more in the future if these restrictions continue.

“I’m positive they will also increase in size each time.

“Councillor Gavin Callaghan’s refusal to engage with us and take onboard our genuine concerns does nothing but widen the divide.

“We are more than happy to debate with him and a panel of his choice in a public forum.

Until then, I can foresee this becoming a regular occurrence on our streets.”

Basildon Council leader Mr Callaghan said his door is always open to residents who with to raise concerns or lobby MPs making decisions.

Superintendent Bonnie Moore said: “This was a clear and blatant breach of the Government’s Covid-19 regulations and those who took part have risked their health and those of their loved ones through the spread of the virus.

“Our approach to the Government’s regulations has always been to try to engage with people, explain the regulations, and encourage them to do the right thing.

“Sadly, a lot of people made a decision not to do the right thing so we had to take enforcement action.

“A number of our officers involved also reported being injured but, thankfully, their injuries are relatively minor.

“I know these are challenging times for everyone but we all have a responsibility to help keep each other safe.

“Having to deal with clear and blatant breaches of the regulations means having to take our officers away from dealing with other incidents and affects our ability to respond to other forms of crime.”