Proposed mosque rejected from Stalybridge due to car-parking concerns – yet BNP claim victory for their protest

By James Metcalf

Proposals for a new mosque in Stalybridge have been rejected following concerns over car parking – yet Tameside’s BNP branch are claiming the rejection as their victory.

The mosque, proposed by brothers Mujahid and Khalid Zaheer, would have been part of a community centre in a planned conversion to the Pineapple pub on Kenworthy Street, Stalybridge.

But on the same day that Mr and Mr Zaheer organised a public meeting over the mosque, the BNP and a number of residents launched a protest along with a petition with 2,500 signatures.

The planning application for the mosque has now been rejected on the grounds that the car-parking it would require could not be satisfactorily accommodated on the site.

Yet the British National Party’s Tameside organiser, Kay Pollitt, believes that it was their campaign and protest that played a major part.

She told MM: “It’s only the British National Party who are opposed to the building of a mosque on British soil, as a party we preserve British Culture and Identity, this is why the people of Stalybridge turned to us and nobody else.

“There is no real large Muslim population in the area, so with that said a mosque is not wanted or required, if Muslims from that area would like to pray then Ashton has many mosques so their niche could have been met there.

“The Labour MP, along with the local councillors for Stalybridge, was in favour for the mosque. It just shows you how un-in touch [sic] with the people they really are.

“The message we were getting is that nobody wanted it. I have in fact have been involved in other mosque application halts and the ratio on the Stalybridge was nine to one for stopping the mosque application.”

However a Tameside Council spokesperson explained that it was due to issues around the mosque’s ability to adequately cater for car-parking that it was rejected.

The spokesperson said: “Vehicles would be forced to park on surrounding roads to the detriment of residential amenity, highway safety, and the convenience of other road users.

“All applicants – and objectors – can request for an application to still go to Speaker Panel for decision but, in this case, the applicants did not make this request.”

Stalybridge Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds said he had no objection to any new mosques.

He said: “Tameside is home to many Muslims and that is something to be proud of. It’s true that Stalybridge doesn’t have a significant Muslim community and so I’m not aware of a large demand for a mosque, but in terms of a planning application that is not a material issue.”

According to data from the 2011 census, published by the Office for National Statistics, 4.4% of Tameside’s population are Muslim, equating to 9,705 out of 219,324 people.

Picture courtesy of J T Thornhill, with thanks.

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