BLACKPOOL Council has launched an internal review to establish why a controversial mosque was offered free car parking.
The promise of eight spaces in the council’s south car park was made to the town’s Noor-a-Madina Mosque without councillors or senior officers’ knowledge.
Now the council has promised to establish why that happened.
Planning permission for the Waterloo Road mosque was turned down in November on the grounds of a lack of car parking, but town hall officers had recommended the scheme for approval subject to a satisfactory solution to the parking problems.
There was uproar after news of the offer to the mosque emerged, despite the council immediately rescinding it.
And now deputy leader of the opposition Coun Tony Williams, who said the saga was a “shambles”, has welcomed news of the review.
Coun Williams said: “The chief executive has confirmed to me there is going to be an independent investigation into the concerns I have regarding the free car parking.
“The offer would endorse and support the planning application appeal by the mosque and I am also concerned about the manner in which this parking offer was given.”
The council maintains the mosque was told it was only entitled to the parking if it won its planning appeal, and said the officer who made the offer had done so because other places of worship – such as town centre church St John’s – have free parking.
But the promise of free passes was cancelled after the council came to the conclusion the mosque had a “totally different set of circumstances” to the church.
Tassuraf Shah, who runs the mosque, has always insisted she did not ask the council for free parking and is happy to pay for spaces for mosque users.
An appeal to the planning refusal will take the form of written submissions from both Mrs Shah and the council. The decision will be made by a Planning Inspector.
Blackpool Council has confirmed a review will take place but said it was standard procedure to look into the process.
A spokeswoman added: “The chief executive has asked internal audit to conduct a review into how car parking and planning have been dealt with.”