Leicester MP Keith Vaz is back on his bike to raise cash for Thurnby Lodge youth facilities
MP Keith Vaz yesterday revisited his past as he announced a sponsored cycle ride to raise money for an estate's youth facilities – including a disused Scout hut at the centre of a dispute.
The East Leicester MP recreated a photograph of him taking part in a charity ride in 1988 to raise cash for young people in Leicester's Thurnby Lodge.
He will ride around the estate on Saturday, November 24 and is urging others to join him.
The future of a disused Scout hut, in Nursery Road, is at the centre of negotiations between the city council, residents and a Muslim group called the As-Salaam Trust, which wants to turn the building into a community centre.
Some residents have staged regular protests outside the neighbouring Thurnby Lodge Community Centre, where members of As-Salaam have been meeting for almost three years.
Some have said they would prefer the Scout hut to be developed for the wider community.
Many support a proposal to turn it into a boxing club and community gym.
They are also concerned about extra traffic the building might create if it became a community centre.
Mr Vaz has previously suggested the Scout hut should be put to use for the wider community instead of being taken on by a faith group.
Yesterday, he said: "I am taking up the challenge of cycling around the Thurnby Lodge estate to highlight the lack of provision of youth and community services in Thurncourt ward.
"I will need all the support I can get on what is bound to be a very cold day."
Meanwhile, police have confirmed they invoked the Public Order Act to limit the size and location of the protest last Friday.
There were concerns that children taking part in As-Salaam's after school classes would feel intimidated by the protest.
A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: "The police have a legal duty to facilitate a peaceful protest and have no powers to stop a demonstration, unless disorder occurs or is seriously anticipated.
"On Friday, October 14, officers in Thurnby Lodge asked that the protest had limited numbers and was located away from the community centre entrance.
"The restrictions applied under Section 14 of the Public Order Act were only in place that night and the group obliged.
"However, police can impose restrictions at any time they feel a protest is no longer peaceful or would cause disruption or intimidation to residents."
The city council said it was working with a new residents' group, the Forgotten Estate Committee, to improve facilities.
A council spokeswoman said: "We have had some very productive meetings with all the parties involved, in order to come up with a satisfactory solution.
"We have taken our time over this and really listened to all the issues raised.
"We are hopeful that we are edging closer to a resolution and that we will be able to announce this shortly."
Mr Vaz has set noon on Saturday, November 24 as the date for the ride.
Those who would like to take part will be asked to donate £5 or £10. All participants will be entered into a draw where the winner will be given a bicycle.
Further details of the ride can be obtained from the Thurnby Lodge Community Centre or on Mr Vaz's website at: