According to a recent article in Asian Voice (November 22), “The Hindus in Leicester are protesting against a criticism about turning a simple local planning permission objection to a communal agenda.” The article in question relates to recent request for planning permission to convert a warehouse into a Muslim nursery “for 12 children,” and “a prayer hall and education centre for 15-20 people, keeping it small and for local residents only.”
Apparently local Labour MP Keith “Bomber” Vaz (see “The Secret of Keith Vaz’s Life of War”) has “shown concerns” about the requested change of use of the premises on 86 Belper Street, which is right in the heart of Belgrave. As the Asian Voice explained:
“Fayaz Suleman who represented the new centre’s planning group, emphasised this is only meant for local residents, coming by foot and will not add extra traffic. They will be turned away if they are from a different postcode.”
On 19th November Vaz attended a huge public meeting at the Peepul centre which was attended by around 350 people – nearly all of whom opposed the Belper Street development.
Like Vaz, Labour councillor John Thomas (Belgrave ward) voiced concern about the proposed development, and he was reported as saying: “My objection to this planning permission is entirely based on congestion and traffic. There is no racial element to it.”
That is good to hear. But given that our local MP apparently has such serious concerns about the development, it remains a mystery why the big man himself was “unavailable to comment” further on this seemingly very controversial case. We can perhaps look forward to Vaz’s elaborations on this issue in his next weekly “interview” column in the Asian Voice.