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?

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.

500 words from Spencer Cartlidge

THE ENGLAND FIRST PARTY – Many people have asked me already, are you a racist?

My answer to that is I say its OK to have the Scottish national party and no one seems to ask them, I don’t think its wrong to represent English people young and old in there own country even though the labour party seem to think it is, the trouble with them is they don’t like the competition because they have had it so sewn up for years, yes cause there is a massive issue with immigration no party dare seem address it, apart from the BNP of who we have had dialogue with about it, and we wont deny meeting the English defence league to see there issues about sharia law being introduced in England and what it brings to our country, without a referendum I hasten to add, these people I have met, EDL,BNP, are according to the labour party are knuckle dragging scumbag idiots, I assure you they from from it, they know their stuff that’s why they are highly growing in numbers, I’m not just saying that, I was very surprised, I feel they are so bemused how extreme Muslims are allowed to burn the poppy on armistice day along with burning the union flag, and they get a 50 pound fine, they seem to feel the powers that be are so afraid of Islam ???

But we have massive issues of more importance such as re-generation or should I say lack of it, we have just to seemed to replacing our history by retail, no sight of any manufacturing structure, well nothing to shout about, I look around stoke our once great city and in massive parts of it is just shear urban decay and no-one stands up and takes any responsibility, we are now one of the worst, poorest cities to live in England.

Derelict housing, empty shops, lack of affordable housing lack of help for small business and no-one over the years and years of our glorious run Stoke-on-Trent Labour council as ever seemed to have the answers, no youth clubs anymore to keep our youngsters out of crime, a transport system that never seems to improve, our pensioners worrying about heating bills, in a perfect world we would love to open the books to the Stoke-on-Trent-public about what really happens to all the money that comes and goes out of what alot of people consider one of the dodgiest town hall in England, will it ever happen, it’ll open alot of eyes if it ever did.

England First Party Candidate – Dresden & Florence Ward

PS. This is the time for the PROTEST VOTE, we don’t claim to be professional politicians, never have, but stroll on, could we really do any worse ?

Wol’s World Cup Dream!

As a football commentator/reporter in a past life, I have always been able to remain impartial during club matches.

Unfortunately during England matches my national pride at patriotism boils over and I am ashamed to admit it is not a pretty sight.

It’s got me in some bother over the years, like during Euro 96 when after one match [against Holland], I got mortal drunk only to wake up with the vague memory that I had done something really silly.

It transpires that me and my brother-in-law, whilst in something of a state, decided it would be a really good idea to visit a tattoo parlour and get the Cross of St. George tattooed at the top of our arms.

And so as the realisation of my stupidity began to dawn on me the following morning, I got out of bed [very gingerly], trying to pretend that there was no blood on the sheets.

Anita, my lovely, normally placid wife, went cataclysmically ballistic! She made me promise to have the monstrosity removed with an angle grinder if necessary. She refused to speak to me for a very long time, but at least I got to watch the rest of the tournament in relative peace and quiet!

I remember I went to see Gentle John after the tournament and asked him if he could do anything with it? “I’m good youth, but not that f****** good” he said. I managed to get the offending tattoo covered eventually as it was impossible to get it removed.

Italia 90 was very emotional for me too. That was the year that my eldest was born. In fact, I watched the England v Belgium game alone at home on the 26th June. Anita was holed up in the hospital with high blood pressure and was due to be induced the following morning. I sat and watched the game my head in a spin, my mind on an emotional roller-coaster. I prayed for a win and thanks to a David Platt wonder goal 1 minute from the end of extra-time, we succeeded. And I prayed for the safe arrival of my first born, Tom came into the world safely, but needing to spend a small amount of time in the special baby care unit. See God [or whoever you worship] is good – sometimes.

He was home fit and well within a few days and in time to watch England beat Cameroon 3-2, again after extra-time and to see our sorry exit to Germany in the semi’s on penalties. He tells me that he has no recollection of the games – shame on him, I say!

See, that is my problem, I experience the very extreme of emotions, the euphoria of even the simplest goals and the the devastation of defeat and drama’s like Gazza’s tears.

At Euro 2000, me and my mate Casper [so named because he had hair like Billy Casper from the film Kes] decided to get tickets to see our beloved national side in Belgium and Denmark. We were not successful in the ballot, but we did get offered tickets to see Holland v Denmark in Rotterdam.

We decided to take the opportunity and so off we went. I will never forget being in the bars around Amsterdam and Rotterdam and standing side by side with the Dutch supporters who accepted us with open arms and empty beer glasses. Our trip to the stadium was surreal. There we sat on a tram making its way to the Stadium with thousands of Dutch fans bouncing up and down, the tram bounced with them. A guy leaned across to us and in broken English he said: “You English?” we admitted that we were and asked him how he knew: “ah, it was easy, there are only two people on the whole of this tram that are not wearing an orange shirt. I guessed you must be English, you stick out like a sore thumb at a wedding!” [a bit mixed up, but we knew what he meant!]

We went to watch the England v Germany game in a bar in the centre of Rotterdam it was full of Dutch and Danish fans who were getting along famously. We sat at a table where to serious looking chaps were already sitting. It turned out that we had found the only two Germans in Rotterdam who had travelled with the same idea as us because they too had failed to get tickets. We watched the game together, England won courtesy of an Alan Shearer header. The Two German guys were inconsolable, I couldn’t help but say: “At least YOU know how it feels now!”. They took it in good heart, we shared a few beers and a meal before bidding them goodbye and good luck.

The thing is, there was not one bit of trouble anywhere. Rotterdam has a certain reputation in football circles and yet we saw the different fans enjoy their football and the company of other nations fans.

My Amsterdam tale is quite another blog on it’s own, suffice to say that I acquired the taste of space cakes!

I am one of those people who get choked up over sport. When England play cricket, when we have someone in Wimbledon [usually just the 1st round these days!] When we have a boxer going for the world title, when Europe take on the USA in the Ryder Cup. No matter what the event it just gets to me, sad I know.

I am really looking forward to this world cup. I don’t think we will win, but if the desire of the nation is anything to go by, we will beat all comers.

I will fly my flag with pride, I will enjoy seeing the bunting flapping around on the breeze. I will wear my replica 1966 England world Cup shirt with pride and i will kiss the three lions as I always do.

You see, the far right have stolen my flag and my patriotism and my national pride, for something altogether more dark and sinister. They have claimed it and want to use it to divide communities and to do down those who were not fortunate enough to be born here.

I want my flag and the ideal of patriotism back. We English are warm, fair, tolerant and friendly. We need to see that displayed on the streets as well as the sports grounds.

I hope that all race, colours, creeds, sexes and religion unite and support our team as we do sporting battle on the African continent.

The games will all end with a handshake, let’s not forget that.

I had a dream the other night that I was lifting the Jules Rimmet Trophy for England, …alas it was only while someone was dusting underneath it.

My Sentinel Cup knees gave up a long time ago I’m afraid.

So lets all support our team with pride, passion and with a few drinks. It only comes around every four years, so above all lets enjoy it, win, lose or draw.

Gooaarrnn ENGLAND!

Fly The Flag Or Ban The Burkha? ““ Beware The Far Right Internet Warriors

Here we are on the brink of one of the greatest sports events, the football World Cup and the far right just can’t leave us alone to enjoy it can they?

The far right have an army of media police who trawl the Internet looking for stories that they can put a far right spin on and create uproar on internet/newspaper forums.

No finer example of this was the recent national story relating to the urban myth perpetrated by the far right that pub landlords were to prevent customers from entering licensed premises wearing England football shirts and to prevent them being served in pubs where the World Cup matches were being shown.

The story was incorrect and eventually the police had to come out with media statements clarifying their position. By this time of course the far rights internet warriors had whipped and spun the story beyond comprehension. There was even a massive Facebook group opposing the so called ban.

Locally of course we have had the bogus story of the “Ëœmum’ who was allegedly ordered of a First Bus because her young son was wearing an England shirt. The driver was of “Ëœeastern European’ origin supposedly.

Again, no credible witness to the story was found and First Bus concluded that the incident had never happened.

The story provoked a large response on the Sentinel website and it was clear that a large proportion of the commenters were of a far right persuasion. The comments were eventually closed.

I have spoken to a fair few in the Asian communities who have absolutely no issue with people flying the flag any time let alone during a World Cup. Indeed I have also seen a few “Ëœcross of St George’ flags flying in Normacott.

I reckon most of the Asian communities are supporting England at this World Cup, especially those who were born and were educated in this country.

OK, they might support Pakistan during the Cricket World Cup but this is no different to someone who supports Wales in the Rugby Union 6-Nations because their parents were born in Wrexham [yes I know that man!]. The far right love to make out there is an issue with Asian communities being “Ëœoffended’ by displays of nationalism, but in my humble experience this is just not the case.

I have started to see the far right Internet warriors start to call for the wearing of the Burkha to be banned in public places. This follows the recent debates in France and Belgium where they are considering a law against Islamic veils.

The Burkha is not a religious requirement and I can understand that in some circumstances they could be considered inappropriate, in particular a court of law for instance.

There are quite a few examples of where, in my opinion, it would be wrong to be allowed to wear a veil that covers the whole of the face, when visiting a doctor or nurse for example. I also think that it would be difficult to conduct a job interview with a candidate who was wearing a burkha or a similar garment.

There will be a debate in this country at some point I would guess. But I would hope that the discussion would be open and honest rather than the far right being allowed to hijack the issue to attack on race or religious grounds.

I think the recent general election proved to our mainstream parties that the public demands real debate on immigration and other issues and that debates that have been considered sensitive in the past may well be forced out into the open.

Only by demonstrating that issues such as nationalism, immigration, cultural differences and diversities can be debated in a fair non inflammatory manner, can the hate fuelled and non tolerant tactics of the far right be defeated.

That said, bring on the World Cup. I for one will be shouting for my team from the roof tops”¦.. COME ON ENGLAND!!

New research Into Migration and the rise of the extreme right-wing across Europe

New research on the rise of far-right parties across Europe will be launched today at an international conference organised by Britain’s leading centre-left think tank, Policy Network.

The research paper, authored by Professor Monserrat Guibernau of Queen Mary University, condemns mainstream parties for taking the wrong approach to a new form of right-wing radicalism and says they have failed to address the deep social malaise affecting Europe.

Commenting on the paper, Policy Network’s Elena Jurado said:

“This research shows that Britain’s political elites cannot afford to be complacent about the encroachment of the BNP and their rhetoric of hatred into mainstream politics.”

“Although the BNP is a much weaker party than its continental counterparts and has not yet succeeded in “modernising” its image, all three major parties need to rapidly reach a consensus on how to neutralise the threat of right-wing extremism.”

“That consensus must take seriously the concerns of disenfranchised voters on bread and butter issues like housing, decent public services and their role in the job market. But it must categorically condemn the racist and xenophobic overtones that the BNP and their like exploit to fan the flames of hatred and discontent.”

The paper finds that:

* New right-wing radicalism has built its success on criticism of the current democratic status quo; protest against elites; and the preservation of national cultural integrity.

* The rise of right-wing radicalism cannot solely be explained by short-term economic insecurity as the new radical right have widespread following in more affluent European countries like Denmark and Switzerland and have high levels of support across Europe among middle and lower classes and the self-employed.

* Mainstream parties have failed to stop the rise of the new radical right because they have underestimated the appeal of their message and have dismissed them as fanatics on the fringe of politics.

The paper calls on all mainstream parties across Europe to:

1 . Implement democratic reform to reassert public trust in politics. The new radical right has exploited a growing alienation from politics and increasing mistrust in the political process. Mainstream parties should restore voters’ confidence in politics by improving efficient government, reducing bureaucracy, increasing transparency and enhancing trust between politicians and the citizens they represent.

2. Openly adopt a fair and balanced approach to migration. Anti-immigrant and pro-nationalist discourse is a strong theme across all radical right-wing parties in Europe. Mainstream parties should voice the importance of controlling immigration flows, while formulating immigration policies based clearly on respect for human rights and a balance between rights and duties. Social cohesion should be actively fostered though education and media campaigns, particularly in areas where the concentration of immigrants is high.

3. Smarten up social policies. Rapid change brought about by globalisation and high levels of immigration has alienated large sections of the population. Particular attention should be devoted to the white working class and lower middle class citizens who often feel threatened and unable to compete with cheap foreign labour. This should involve tightened labour legislation to avoid exploitation of citizens and immigrants alike; and a modern welfare state, capable of meeting the needs of the most vulnerable while ensuring access to professional and university education according to ability, not social class.