Petition forces hut row debate
A petition signed by more than 1,500 people against plans to lease a Scout hut to a Muslim community group will be debated by councillors this week.
Residents on Leicester's Thurnby Lodge estate have raised concerns about the As Salaam Trust's plan to take over the disused Leicester City Council-owned building in Nursery Road.
They are concerned the plan would generate extra traffic in the area and want the city council to find an alternative venue for the trust to move to.
They argue the Scout hut should be made available to the wider community.
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The residents, who have formed a group called The Forgotten Estates, are also staging daily protests against the plan, gathering in groups outside a nearby community centre where Muslims have been meeting to pray for the past two-and-a-half years.
There has been a long-running police operation to make sure they remain peaceful after complaints that worshippers felt intimidated.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has been exploring alternatives to leasing the hut to As Salaam for several months.
The handing over of the petition has triggered a debate at the council, which will take place on Thursday.
A report, written by Frank Jordan, the council's director of city development and neighbourhoods, said: "Following the meetings between the city mayor and As Salaam and local community representatives a package of options has been developed and are being considered by all parties."
The council refused to say what the options were. A spokeswoman said: "We are still talking to both As-Salaam and The Forgotten Estates committee about a range of options in a bid to find a solution that meets the needs of both parties."
In an e-mail to Sir Peter, circulated to councillors, Forgotten Estates spokeswoman Maxine Williams of the Stirrup Cup pub, next to the scout hut, said posting a questionnaire to residents would be a waste of time as the petition had already been handed in.
On Friday, after a meeting with Sir Peter, she said: "He's got a difficult job and he is trying to find a solution that suits everybody. I wouldn't want to say anything because things are at a delicate stage."
The Mercury was unable to contact the As Salaam Trust.