The article in today’s Swindon Advertiser talking up opposition to a Muslim Centre in Gorse Hill is irresponsible.
The Al Habib charity has put up £440,000 to buy the former Gorse Hill Working Mens Club, which is a tremendous gesture of confidence in Gorse Hill. They will renovate and preserve an historic building, and the resources of the proposed Islamic Centre, including a conference centre, meeting rooms, and a dance floor will be a resource for the whole community.
We heard all of the same objections when the Sikh community built their temple in Gorse Hill, but that has proven a big success.
Objections about car parking are particularly ridiculous because the same issue would apply to anyone purchasing and using the Working Men’s Club, for whatever purpose. In fact the building has limited car parking of its own, and Gorse Hill is one of the parts of Swindon with the most underused car parking capacity. Where did the patrons of the Working Men’s club used too park previously? Many people came from all over Swindon to use their facilities, for example, I understand that Swindon Folk club used to meet there, which attracted as many people to the area as Friday Prayers will do.
There are five thousand Muslims in Swindon, and they make a welcome contribution to the diversity and cultural and business life of the town. It is important that we marginalise the extremists that want to stoke up tensions between different parts of Swindon’s community.