SHAFAQNA – THE police sat in on a planning meeting to keep the peace as a controversial application for a mosque was discussed.The chairman of the panel, Councillor Shabir Hussain, said he had heard reports that neighbours objecting to the planned mosque had suffered intimidation.
He said if this was true, such behaviour was “totally unacceptable”, adding: “We live in a democratic society in Bradford.”
Yesterday’s meeting heard that the property concerned, 8 Woodhall Avenue, in Thornbury, Bradford, had been approved for use as a madrassa back in 2012.
But the council began enforcement action after getting complaints that it was breaching its planning permission by opening outside permitted hours and hosting prayer sessions.
As a result, madrassa bosses had applied for permission to use the building as a mosque as well, with a prayer hall and with longer opening hours.
Two uniformed officers sat in on the meeting, which passed peacefully as the application was discussed.
But Cllr Hussain urged those running the madrassa to maintain good relationships with their neighbours.
He said: “Islam teaches the good things in life. Make sure everybody is happy in this vicinity. Make sure everybody can live in harmony.”
In the end, the plan was refused, over concerns about a lack of parking and a potential for causing noise and disturbance to locals.
Afterwards, applicant Mohammed Kashif Ali said he was “flabbergasted” to hear the allegations of intimidation, and was more than happy to meet with anyone who felt they had been threatened, so they could get to the bottom of the matter.
Ward councillor Mohammed Shafiq (Lab), translating for Mr Ali, said: “He will be supporting the people who have been intimidated. If there is anybody who has been intimidated, he is more than happy to speak to them and work together.
“Genuinely, if anybody has been intimidated then the matter can be dealt with, but as far as he knows he is not aware of anyone from his family or himself making any intimidation to anyone who has made any objection to this application.”
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said they hadn’t directly received any complaints of threats, and the first they had known about it was at the meeting itself.
He said: “The reason the officers were present was at the request of the local authority to maintain the peace.
“It was thought there would be representatives from both sides and there was potential for some kind of disturbance. As it transpired, that hadn’t been the case.”
But a Council spokesman said: “As far as we are aware the police weren’t there at our request.”
source : http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/11568205.Police_sit_in_on_planning_meeting_to_keep_the_peace_as_decision_made_on_mosque_application/?ref=rss