U-turn on mosque free parking plans

The Noor-a-Madina mosque, on Waterloo Road

The Noor-a-Madina mosque, on Waterloo Road

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PLANS to give a mosque free car parking spaces in Blackpool have been shelved.

And the handling of the situation has been blasted as “chaotic” after Blackpool Council withdrew the offer.

There was uproar when it emerged the Noor-a-Madina Mosque, on Waterloo Road – which has been refused planning permission by Blackpool Council – had been conditionally offered eight free car parking passes for the Blackpool South car park.

But it has now been revealed senior officers and councillors were unaware of the deal – and the mosque has been stripped of the offer.

Deputy leader of the opposition, Coun Tony Williams, now wants a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the offer, and said: “This is totally chaotic – who is running the council?

“It is a total shambles and a disgrace.”

The council has stressed the passes would only have been issued if a planning appeal by the mosque was successful and said the decision was made because other places of worship had been granted similar arrangements in the past.

Tassuraf Shah, who runs the mosque, believes eight parking spaces could help the mosque secure planning permission – but said it had always been happy to pay.

Mrs Shah, who expects the appeal to be heard in the coming months, said: “Obviously the spaces will help us win the appeal and as far as we are concerned it is not an issue if they are free or not, we need them so will pay.”

John Donnellon, service director for built environment, said: “Mrs Shah contacted us in February to request parking permits for South Beach car park. In the past we have granted special dispensation to places of worship therefore an officer felt it was only fair if the mosque was offered the same if their planning application was successful.

“However this is not a decision that was passed by senior mangers or councillors who deem this to be a completely different set of circumstances than the other locations. In the light of this, the offer of the complementary passes has been revoked.

“I want to make it perfectly clear that the visitors to the mosque have not been parking for free in a council car park and nor will they do so in the future.”