New Mosque for Stoke-on-Trent South ““ What’s the Issue?

Yesterday’s Sentinel contained a story about the proposed new Mosque at the top of Chaplin Road in Normacot and surprise surprise it has attracted well over a 100 comments.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the story at all, but the comments left on the website shows that this kind of issue always brings out the extremes in our society.

The mosque in question will be built to replace the existing mosque on the opposite side of the road, yet you would think that this building was just being planted on the Normacot landscape with no prior history.

This mosque, the land on which it will sit, plus additional land/buildings which will be turned into car parking, has been brought and paid for by members of the Normacot community. There is no council/government windfall that is funding this project, just the hard work and endeavours of the Asian community who want a place of worship that is fir for purpose.

The new building will replace an old derelict pottery that was, until it was demolished, an eyesore and blot on the landscape.

This new mosque will be an attractive property that will be landscaped, have arched windows and a domed roof with a minaret. In my opinion it will be a vast improvement on what was there previously.

Reading the comments left on the Sentinel website made me question the mentality of some people.

Here are just a few examples:

” I hope the councillors reject this preposterous idea of building a second mosque in the City!”
”Welcome to Great Britain….NOT”
”well it as not taken long for this to happen as it? when will you lot learn that the labour party is run buy asains so this will get the rubber stamp. should have voted BNP ?? how stupid you are! just wake up
”what a joke, another mosque at a cost of £1.5 million, where do they get the money from? this labour party is a load of bull who will grant permission for mosques but nothing else. we need more work places built or houses for BRITISH people, its not us being racist, its LABOUR”
”William Blake’s imortal song ” Jerusalem ” will have to be written to accommodate these mosques soon i fear :
‘Till we have built ISLAMABAD In England’s green and pleasant land’
”The people of Stoke only have themselves to blame for this. You got what you voted for and boy did you. Everyone of you had the chance to vote BNP in may and you didnt. If you had then you would of had BNP councellors on the council to reject it and most likely of had the plans scrapped. I have no simpathy for you cos you had the chance to have your say in may and you were silent. NO POINT SHOUTING NOW”

And this in a City that has just voted every last politician of a far right persuasion out of the council chamber.

The fact is that the Normacot community want a bigger building than the one that is there at the moment so they want to replace it ““ why is that such an issue.

Just three letters of objection were sent to the council raising the following concerns:

1. The existing mosque already creates nuisance which would be exacerbated by the proposed development.
2. The scheme would create traffic danger.
3. The building would be an eyesore.
4. There is no need for another mosque as there are others around the city

A letter of support was sent by the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent South Rob Flello stating that he supports the development of all faith and religious organisations in the area and considers that allowing them to develop new places of worship helps these groups thrive. He considers that the proposal will be a welcome addition to the wider community.

One concern I do have relates to parking. Friday’s can be a bit of a nightmare for motorists in the area and often cars are double parked or parked illegally around the site of the existing mosque.

The main highway issue is parking. The mosque is intended to serve the local community and as there are mosques in other parts of the city, a large proportion of worshipers are expected to bewithin walking distance. There is also a bus service passing the site.

Notwithstanding this, parking remains an issue and it is evident that there is significant demand for on-street parking at the busiest times at the existing mosque. A total of 39 parking spaces is proposed in the current application, the majority of which would be on the northern part of the site. The outline scheme would have provided 53 spaces in an underground car park. Although on a parking space / floorspace ratio, the current provision would be more or less the same as before (because of the smaller size of building now proposed), the overall number of visitors is likely to be the same. If there are not enough spaces to satisfy the demand, congestion could occur as visitors try to enter the car park when full. It is therefore suggested that the applicants use a permit system so that those in most need of a parking space could be allocated one. This could be arranged through a travel plan which is included at condition 4..

In addition to the off-site arrangements it was considered appropriate in relation to the outline application for funding to be provided for the introduction of parking controls in the area should they prove to be necessary. This would be returned after three years if parking problems had not occurred. This was controlled through a S106 agreement. The same arrangement is considered appropriate in this instance. The outline permission was also conditional to traffic calming measures being provided within the vicinity of the mosque and again these should be provided.

The submitted travel plan is generally good including targets and measures to reduce single occupancy car trips to the site. The final details of this will need to be agreed by condition but subject to this, and the provisions referred to above, the development is considered to be acceptable in highway terms and is in accordance with policiesT1A and T18A.

The other issue is the myth about the call to prayer and how it will be heard all over the south of the city. Again the council planning office has built in restrictions to protect residents of any noise pollution.

The applicants have indicated that they would like to operate a call to prayer which would be announced through an internal PA system 5 minutes before the actual prayer meeting takes place. The previous permission was subject to a condition which limited the volume and times that prayer calls could take place and it is suggested that a similar condition be used, should the current application be approved.

Planning officers conclude their report with the recommendation that the proposal be approved.

That will not deter the dissenters of course and those who wish to turn the issue of worship into a political debate.

Rumours are circulating around the south of the city that the BNP have seized this issue and are set for a robust leaflet campaign. Internet forums are hinting that the English Defence League may use this issue to make a return visit to our city.

Finally, if like this contributor:

This protracted debate indicates what is increasingly wrong with this site. The irksome debate of how many dancing pinheads are involved in far right local politics is an unhealthy obsession with the author of the article. Surely it would be to the benefit of everyone that we concentrate on finding solutions to those seemingly intractable problems that drive the disillusionment with main stream politics such as unemployment, poverty, low wages and poor levels of attainment?

you are left wondering why I am sensitive about issues like this and the danger of the far right in the City of Stoke-on-Trent, just read this taken from today’s Stoke England First Website and then ask yourselves where the real danger comes from?

No sooner is the pisspoor excuse for an election over, than that bastard Pervez is at it again.

The plans for a terrorist training camp in Normacot; oops, sorry, that should read plans for a new mosque in Normacot; are back on the table, and that tubby immigrant is driving forward his plans to colonise Stoke-on-Trent with his muzzie brethren by building mosques in every part of the city, making sure that that the vast majority of taxi services are muslim based- an unfair monopoly- that public swimming pools are closed so his mate Mo can rip off even more people with his sky high charges, and now with the re-appearance of that far left bum bandit Meredith, they will flood the city with even more immigrants, like the overspill from Birmingham currently turning the north of the city into a black enclave!

Take a look at the voluntary bodies handed £millions every year by the city council. Look at VAST, and who runs it, look at the Dudson centre and who runs it, listen to their bullshit about what an important service they perform for the city, then do like me and several colleagues did, and take a good close look at their finances.

Perfoming an important service for the city?

Bollocks, the majority of the money that goes through the doors of places like this is taken up in salaries and pension payments!

“ËœUnemployment, poverty, low wages and poor levels of attainment’ make for attitude like this do they? Somehow I think that it is a whole lot more to do with hatred.

I pose the following to the reader:

Does the danger to our city and the people who live here come from the building of a new mosque for the Muslim population of the south of the city?

Or from far right extremists who display a lack of tolerance, respect and attitudes like this?

Stoke BNP Member Claims His Party Is Finished

I recently asked a senior figure in Stoke BNP if he thought his party was finished for good in our city. He looked me straight in the eye and replied: “I think we are Tone yes”.

He went on to explain that his party had self destructed and imploded in the past two years and he laid the blame firmly and squarely at the doorstep of BNP Leader Nick Griffin.

The story did not get better for the far right party as this activist said that the recent election campaign received no party funding what so ever.

I was told that the BNP would never come back from this low point and that all the fight had gone out of the membership. The party insider revealed that they had really struggled to attract any candidate of quality.

It had cost some candidates in the region of £750 to fund and fight the campaign.

”We just could not compete with the Labour Party and they just smashed us!

“They were really organised this time especially in the centre of the city ““ colour leaflets and telephone campaigning, they knocked the doors en masse and they got their voters out on polling day.

“I don’t know where the BNP go from here, there is no enthusiasm, and we haven’t met since election night.

“Activists aren’t to blame that’s for sure, we have seen a drop in members, some activist have gone off to join other nationalist parties. It’s all down to Nick Griffin.”

This dejected BNP member told of his anger at the way Griffin his running the party.

It appears that if you question the BNP leadership you get an black mark against your name and before you know it you are out of the party.

Griffin is holding on the all the available funds and party activists are left high and dry and are having to fund party expenses themselves.

Many BNP members believe that Griffin his hanging onto the purse strings to fund his, and Andrew Brons’s next European Election campaign.

The Stoke BNP member believes that if Griffin is successful in getting re-elected to the European Parliament then, and only then will he relinquish the chairmanship of the party.

”It’s all down to money with Griffin Tone, He has his entourage to pay for and we believe he employs his wife and his daughter out of his European expenses.

“He is doing all right and we are struggling to fight a campaign against the might of the Labour Party machine.

“I just want to serve as I always have, but everything you do is futile without any party funding to help get leaflets delivered.

“I just wonder where all the money has gone, but it’s no good questioning anything either, only the chosen few know the true picture.

“In four years time we will have a general election to fight alongside the local elections. With people getting fed up and moving on you wonder if we will be able to fight either election.

“The morale is at rock bottom in the party. People are asking if there is any point meeting and if there is anything that we as a group can do anyway.

“This city has four years of Labour to contend with and I’m not sure if the BNP has enough to scrutinise from outside the chamber”.

BNP Leader Nick Griffin claimed nearly £300,000 for his first year as a MEP. This has led to accusations about him jumping aboard the gravy train that he and his party were so outspoken about.

He is yet to answer just how much of his income he has donated to the British National Party.

It has been a spectacular fall from grace both in this city and nationally for the BNP.

At the height of their popularity in 2008 they had 55 councillors nationwide and 9 in here in Stoke-on-Trent.

Now in 2011 they have just 12 councillors across the country and here in this city they have been wiped out of the chamber.

The far right party defended 12 council seats across the country but held on to just 2.

With things as bad as the senior Stoke BNP member paints it, you really do wonder if this is the end for the BNP.

Nationalist parties seem to have been rejected unilaterally by the electorate locally and across the country.

In 2010 the England First Party fielded candidates against the BNP in Stoke. In 2011 they had an agreement not to stand against each other. Out of 16 far right candidates fighting the City Council elections, none were successful.

Of 74,321 votes cast in the Stoke-on-Trent local elections, just 3,690 went to “Ëœnationalist’ candidates.

Politics is often like music and fashion trends, something is fashionable and popular only to fade away and then without warning it is back again. The same could be said about the politics of the far right.

Opponents of the far right, organisations like Searchlight, Unite Against Fascism, Hope Not Hate and NorSCARF will not drop their guard.

They know better than most that just because the BNP, England First Party, EDL and the English Democrats have been forced into being dormant, it does not mean that they have gone away altogether.

The problem for far right parties and in particular the BNP, is when their own supporters believe that they are finished it is very difficult for their party leaders to convince them otherwise.

England First Party Stoke Encourage Violence Against Labour

In an astonishing rant of an article on the England First Party Stoke website, nationalists are being advised to use violence against Labour Party supporters and activists.

The article opens with a picture of Labour Group Leader Mohammed Pervez which contains the caption “ËœAdolph Pervez, preparing to wreck what’s left of this city’.

The article then goes on to attack Pervez over the recent council cuts.

It claims:

“Burslem library is almost certain to be one of the first victims of voting in a foreigner to run this city council, a man with no connection, no affection, for this city, or its natives”.

The EFP author thought to be recent election candidate for Goldenhill & Sandyford Craig Pond then hits out at voter apathy and the choice they made on 5th May:

“This refusal of the people of Stoke-on-Trent to invest just a little of their time in voting, is going to bring a barrelful of grief to to(sic) those of us that did bother, but I suppose if you can’t be bothered to vote, you won’t be bothered by the adverse affects of your decision.

Stoke-on-Trent cannot survive another 4 years of the criminal rule of these Labour cheats, people who have wasted £millions, have manipulated contracts to line their own pockets, who have by-passed the regulations to hand contracts out to specific(sic) individuals and companies, who have at every turn done what’s best for themselves, not for the people of this city, but the people have just sat by and let this happen, so they have no-one to blame but themselves for the upcoming carnage”.

The EFP author then goes into an astonishing attack upon the Labour Party, it supporters and activists. The article also goes on to claim that labour broke the electoral rules:

“I think the time has come for those of us prepared to put in an effort to save this city, to re-evaluate the way we do things. Labour lie, cheat, and steal, but it is us nationalists that are labelled the bad guys, it is Labour that break the electoral rules, but it is us that are castigated”.

With no explanation or apparent proof written, published or attached, the article then claims that opponents of the EFP have acted violently and with aggression and intimidation.

The article then encourages nationalists to show violence aggression and intimidation on a bigger scale:

”There’s no point going into a fight with your dukes up, if your opponent has a baseball bat, so sometimes it is necessary to adopt your opponents tactics in order to defeat that opponent. I think it is long past time that the far left scum of this city got more than a taste of its own medicine, that there is no point us nationalists sticking to the rules when our opponents cheat at every possibility, and that we should meet their aggression(sic) and violence and intimidation with exactly the same, only bigger, better, harder.

This is the way to win back this city, don’t sit and take the unacceptable behaviour of a handful of socialist fascists, people that are prepared to force their opinions onto an apathetic public, to lie and deceive in order to get the Labour party elected, time for the gloves to come off, let’s see have brave this scum really is when confronted with its own tactics”.

This article is the latest in a long line of hate filled and intolerant articles to appear of the EFP website.

Pits n Pots contacted the EFP press department to ask if the article was in accordance with party policy and to ask whether the national party wanted the opportunity to distance itself from the articles claims or content.

We got the following response:

I can’t see anything wrong in what Mr Pond has written, I may have written it differently myself – but thats me, and Mr Pond was there on the night and I was not.

I should also point out that thanks to a member of Stoke EFP persuading(sic) the local Stoke City “firm” and Stoke EDL to stay away that night, we prevented an “off” with the far-left/UAFF from taking place outside the election hall. Perhaps next time we should let them come along?!

However, if you and/or any other Stoke liberals are concerned about Mr Ponds writings inciting violence, I suggest you call the Police and not me.

Best Regards,

Mark Cotterill, Chairman, EFP.

The BNP And The EDL

The BNP are denying any involvement with the EDL, yet at least 2 BNP councillors from Stoke-on-Trent City Council were present at the EDL rally in Hanley on 23 January

On his personal blog, Councillor Mike Barnes writes,

The BNP apparently are denying any involvement or attendance of the English Defence League Rally in Stoke-on-Trent on January 23 2010.

Well take a close look at this picture I took and posted on my twitter as it happened.

This pictures was taken moments after the EDL had tried to go around the police line and come up Cheapside in Hanley to attack the UAF Peace Vigil. It was taken by me from within the Peace Vigil and the building behind is Gala Bingo. The main body of the EDL attack has been pushed back to the bottom of Cheapside.

On the right side of the picture are three men not in police uniform.

The guy in the cap on the right is BNP Cllr Philip Sandland from the Bentilee and Townsend Ward of Stoke-on-Trent.

The person in the middle, who is taking photos of the UAF, is BNP Cllr Michael Coleman from the Weston and Meir North Ward of Stoke-on-Trent, and he is currently the Leader of the BNP on Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The third chap is unknown to me.

I also understand that this is also proven by the extensive CCTV footage taken by the City Council on the date.

Cllr Coleman spotted me trying to take photos and the three of them ran down Cheapside away from me immediately after this photo was taken. (Got a bit shy!)

Tony Walley spoke to Councillor Mike Coleman on the telephone to get his side of the story.

During the interview Councillor Coleman admits to taking 1000s of photos of the UAF because they [the BNP] want to know who goes to these rallies, because they associate the BNP with Nazis & fascists.

He also criticises the Police for allowing the EDL to meet in pubs around the city before the rally but commends them on the way they dealt with the rally on the day.

Listen to the full interview with Councillor Coleman below.

Exclusive Audio Interview – ” State your case” – Tommy Robinson – EDL Leader

We here at PitsnPots are proud to be local “Citizen Journalists” who work hard to bring the exclusive stories to our community.

Following the E.D.L protest in Hanley on Saturday 23rd January 2010. We wanted to speak with the leader of the E.D.L, Tommy Robinson so that you could hear from his own mouth just what the E.D.L are all about and what their aims are/were.

Listen to the Interview and make up your own mind. Hopefully this interview will be the first of many others with other political figures both local and national.

[soundcloud id=’39117535′]

48,000 view Pits n Pots Rally Coverage

UPDATED STATS.

48,000 people have viewed our You Tube channel footage of the EDL & UAF rallies in Hanley this weekend.

The video interviews on our YouTube Channel and rally footage recorded by the Pits n Pots team over the weekend have been viewed by over 48,000 people in just two days. One video alone has attracted over 22,000 views.

Today [Monday] our YouTube Channel is second to ITN as the most watched news/politics channel, with just under 50% less views than the National News Agency. We are also the 16th most watched channel over all categories.

Our photo gallery of the day has had over 10,000 views and the live coverage on the day had 1000 people watching our aggregated feeds at one point.

The site had over 5000 unique visitors on Saturday afternoon as people hit us to get the latest information from the rallies.

Tony Walley, founder of Pits n Pots said, ‘this is fantastic news for us as a local news site, to see that people are hitting us to get the latest information. We have been working with Staffordshire Police and the Stoke-on-Trent City Council to get information out to our readers on the run up to the rallies and did our best to cover the days events as they happened. Being able to use our site and technology to be able to report on the events almost live was a challenge and an experience to say the least. We had planned on covering things such as council meetings live not running around the streets of Hanley covering rallies!’

He went on to say, ‘we were able to use our local network of regular readers and commenter’s to help provide information and feeds from around the town on the day. We know the press office in Hanley Police station were monitoring our feed during the day on Saturday as well as a number of other news organisations.’

Midlands TUC Condemns English Defence League Presence In Stoke-on-Trent

The Midlands TUC today (Saturday) issued a statement condemning the English Defence League for holding a rally in the centre of Stoke-on-Trent.

Cheryl Pidgeon, Regional Secretary of the Midlands TUC said, ‘We know that this group includes football hooligans and racist thugs who are intent on causing trouble. Their claim to be protesting against radical Islam has been shown to be a fraud, as their behaviour in other cities has shown, where they quickly descend into exposing their hate for all Muslims. They have deliberately chosen to come to Stoke-on-Trent on the day that a local football match takes place, with Macclesfield visiting Port Vale. Only the television schedule has prevented the EDL presence clashing with the FA Cup match between Stoke City and Arsenal as the game has been moved to Sunday.’

Cheryl went on to say, ‘the timing is designed to cause maximum disruption to the people of Stoke-on-Trent and will place severe demands on police resources today. The Midlands TUC rejects the EDL message of hate, and would urge the people of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to do the same, leaving the EDL in no doubt that their shameful politics is not welcome in this fine city.’

Let’s hope it really is ‘business as usual’ amid extreme demos

Police are urging residents, business-owners and visitors to the city that it is business as usual tomorrow, despite the perceived threat of English Defence League members descending upon Stoke-on-Trent.

Police have been contacting businesses which could be affected by the demonstration to ensure that everyone is aware, contingency plans can be made, and hopefully everything goes smoothly, as the force brings in officers from elsewhere in the midlands to boost its peace-keeping presence.

Superintendent Dave Mellor’s message is:

“I want to minimise the disruption that this event may cause and allow you to go about your normal daily business.”

The reason for which the rally has caused such concern is due to trouble other cities where similar things have taken place, and activists have clashed with members of opposing demonstrations, and muliple arrests have followed.

However, it is hoped that the city’s force is better placed to deal with any trouble that does materialise having learnt from mistakes elsewhere.

And although police may not prevent such a demonstration, for as long as it remains peaceful, and rightly so, in the name of free speech, they are able to prevent them marching around the town, a move known to have escalated problems in the past.

Members of the EDL or EWDL (English Defence League or English and Welsh Defence League) have been described typically as appearing somewhat similar to what you might expect of a football hooligan. As a result police have warned bars to be on the lookout for the cliched Burberry checked caps, and Stone Island sweaters.

And it is this kind of association which has sent the alarm bells out, not forgetting the amount of media coverage which has once again seen Stoke appear to the nation as a hotspot of racial tension.

But what actually makes this event have the potential to become violent is the fact that there will not only be one extreme group appearing in the city centre tomorrow, but two.

As well as the EDL, who will be spreading their message in Old Hall Street, opposite Argos, in the area once home to drunks and shoplifters (and Mike Wolfe’s Ice rink!), and just around the corner, in eyesight of the EDL demonstrators, will be members of an opposing protest group.

It is this part which seems odd in that it is likely to provoke confrontation, and yet it seems the police are powerless to prevent both groups appearing in the vicinity of each other.

But, with a police force stronger than we have seen for anything else in Stoke-on-Trent, and businesses ready for any consequences that could prevail after the groups disperse, I am sure that tomorrow should go without a huge ordeal. And I hope people do go about their business as usual, and that the protest is nothing but peaceful. If nothing else, because we’ve had enough of Stoke’s name being dragged through the mud.

English Defence League to march in Stoke…

The highly controversial far-right English Defence League are set to march in Stoke Town Centre.

The EDL plan to descend on our city on the 23rd January 2010.

The EDL originated from a group named "United Peoples of Luton", formed in response to a March 2009 protest against Royal Anglian Regiment troops returning from the war in Afghanistan.

The British National Party are very keen to distance themselves from the EDL. It is known however that a key BNP activist, Chris Renton, designed the EDL’s website.

The BNP have warned their members that anyone who is associated or involved with the EDL will be open to disciplinary action. The EDL claim that it is their aim to demonstrate peacefully in English Cities against what they perceive to be the spread of Islamism, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in England.

Their demonstrations have sometimes resulted in violent clashes with Unite Against Facism and other groups. In August the EDL and the UAF clashed at a demo in Birmingham which led to 35 arrests.

In early September, again in Birmingham, there were 90 arrests at a EDL demo. Further trouble has been reported in Manchester and Leeds following clashes between the EDL and the UAF.

There have also been alleged threats made to a number of journalist covering EDL marches which has been confirmed by the National Union of Journalists.

Several Police units are understood to be investigating the activities of the EDL.

Earlier this month the EDL marched in Nottingham and although there were only minor scuffles the cost of policing the event was estimated at some £1 million.

There have been Facebook groups set up to protest about the proposed march in Stoke.