Campaigners against the proposed English Defence League march in Bradford have called for “pride and optimism” to triumph over “violence, racism and division”.

Bradford youth worker and playwright Richard Dunbar and other members of the Hope Not Hate group have collected hundreds of signatures backing a ban on the EDL march in Bradford.

The campaign, backed by the Telegraph & Argus, is seeking to stop the group from marching on August 28. A petition asking for the ban, which has collected more than 7,000 signatures, is set to be delivered to the Home Secretary, Theresa May.

Mr Dunbar, the nephew of Buttershaw playwright Andrea Dunbar, has been rallying support in Buttershaw and via scores of Facebook groups.

He said the ban was needed to ensure there was no possible repeat of the 2001 riots which devastated Bradford and caused a huge schism in relations between the city’s white and Muslim communities.

Mr Dunbar, who lives on Buttershaw estate, said: “Bradford has come a long way since the last time there was trouble ten years ago.

“In terms of different communities working together, there is a lot going on. There is Hope Not Hate, faith forums, schools linking projects and voluntary organisations working to promote harmony.

“People in Bradford do want a peaceful community, and the EDL march will go against that. They are coming here to provoke violence and division that Bradford doesn’t need.

“The Home Secretary should sit up and listen to what the people of Bradford are saying.”

Mr Dunbar said that he understood people’s right to freedom of speech, but added: “The EDL are coming to cause trouble and be divisive, so how can that be about freedom?”

Lorraine Fitzsimmons, from Hope Not Hate, said the campaign to ban the EDL had already garnered huge support.

“We have had a really good response to the campaign from a really diverse set of people across Bradford,” she said. “I think that, for all its problems, people are proud of this city, and we need to keep that optimism.”