Thursday, March 11, 2010

 

We won!

I was at the extraordinary council meeting last night to decide on the mosque application. I'm glad to say, nearly all of the councillors voted against the plan. Why it had to go to these length I don't know. There was little in the way new information. My suspicion is that previously the planning committee hadn't given the matter much thought and allowed themselves to be led by Councillor Bell. Perhaps next time they'll actually bother to read all the available documents. And if someone could chivvy them along as well; I've never seen so many people take so long to say so little.

I think we won in the end because we focused on the planning issues. When the other side spoke, most of them talked about their needs for a suitable place to pray and meet. No-one was denying that. What they failed to do was justify why it had to be on that site with that particular design.

We had Taj Hargey speaking on our behalf. He made the very good points that the proposed design wasn't a global mosque design but specific to certain parts of Asia: there is no need to have domes and minarets. And having separate prayer facilities for men and women (and the women's only about 25% of the size) isn't part of moderate Muslim belief.

The evening took at nasty turn at the end when someone threatening to kill Dr Hargey and he had to have a police escort away from the venue.

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I was at the meeting too, and you're right, it took a long time to get to the vote. I was impressed by Taj Hargey - he made some very pertinent points and it was a great shame that he ended the evening with threats. On the lunchtime news, Mrs Choudhary said that they would go to appeal to see if they can get the decision overturned, so I suppose we've got a wait of up to six months before we'll know the final outcome.

It does strike me as very sad that the Bengali Welfare Association have obviously spent thousands of pounds on this application, and are prepared to spend a lot more on appeal, and yet they have refused to spend a small percentage of that on refurbishing the locally listed building that they own, and use for their acts of worship.

It was quite funny listening to Ken Pedder justifying his change of heart - thank goodness for English Heritage, who seem to have provided the incentive for all the worms to turn!
 
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