Thurnby Lodge: Options considered for disused Scout hut by Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby is considering a controversial choice over whether to offer a disused Scout hut to a Muslim community group or a different residents organisation.
The As-Salaam Trust hopes to turn the property in Nursery Road, Thurnby Lodge, into a community centre and prayer room and has stressed it would open the centre to the wider community, not simply to Muslims.
Meanwhile, some residents have staged protests against the group's plan by gathering outside the nearby community centre where members of As-Salaam have been meeting to pray for the past three years.
Many said they were concerned As-Salaam's plans would cause traffic problems and a residents' group called the Forgotten Estates Committee was formed as a result of the protests.
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Committee members said they would also like to open the building for community use, saying many people on the estate would like it to house a boxing gym, as well as cultural activities.
Yesterday, Sir Peter unveiled two options for the site, while saying leaflets would be sent to homes in the area asking for views to help him come to a final decision.
One option would see the council buy the lease and pass responsibility for running the building to the Forgotten Estates Committee.
Under that option, the council would also grant a lease to the As-Salaam Trust for the nearby Raven Centre, which is next to the Thurnby Lodge Community Centre, where its members meet for prayers.
Other services provided at the Raven Centre would be moved to the community centre or other council properties in the area.
The second option would see the council buy the Scout hut lease and re-lease it to As-Salaam at an agreed price.
The Raven Centre and Thurnby Lodge Youth and Community Centre would continue to be available for local people to use, the council said.
Sir Peter said: "I have personally met with residents and with As-Salaam on several occasions in a bid to resolve this situation.
"I have listened to all of the views put forward and given very careful consideration to them.
"Following a number of meetings with all parties, and a lot of work by officers, I believe we now have options on the table that would meet everyone's needs and enable us to return to a situation of collaboration and harmony in the area.
"No decision has been made and we will be seeking the views of everyone who lives in the area before reaching a final conclusion.
"I would urge local people to complete the questionnaire and return it to us so their views can be taken into account."
As-Salaam's imam Mohammed Lockhat said: "We hope the mayor will be making a decision in the new year and that people will express their views to help him make that decision."
Maxine William's, licensee of the nearby Stirrup Cup pub and one of the founding members of the Forgotten Estates Committee, said: "It will be interesting to see how this turns out.
"I still think we all need to sit down around a table and talk some sense to each other, things do seem rather divided at the moment and that is a shame."
The consultation will close on December 21. A decision will be made in January once all views have been considered.