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Opposition to an Islamic place of worship in Windsor highlighted at council meeting

People ‘will go out of their way to criticise’ when it comes to plans for a new community centre in Windsor, a member of the Islamic Trust told a community meeting this week.

Saghir Ahmed told the council-run focus group One Borough that there has been opposition to building an Islamic place of worship in the town.

The meeting, held on Wednesday at Maidenhead Synagogue, was given an update about the safety of faith centres in the borough before discussing locations of mosques.

Mr Ahmed, a member of the Islamic Trust (Maidenhead), said: “There were issues. People were either petitioning against it or they weren’t happy with having a centre in the community.

“Generally people are very nice, you meet people and all is very well, but when they get an opportunity to criticise something they will go out of their way to criticise it.

“So if we put in an application in to, say, extend the mosque, or do something with it, everybody will just wake up.”

The Windsor Muslim Association (WMA) which formed in 2010 has been searching for a permanent home in the town since 2016.

In April, the association submitted plans to create a new Islamic community centre in Dedworth.

The application proposes to transform Ruddles Pool, a two-storey detached house in Maidenhead Road, into a place of worship.

Mr Ahmed described how people are ‘pleasantly surprised’ when they come to Maidenhead Mosque, located by the Magnet Leisure Centre, on an open day.

“It’s just another place of worship like any other place of worship,” he said.

“Unfortunately, you have people within all communi-ties who are not treading the right path, but I think collectively, if we work together, we can deal with those issues.”

On the issue of security at at Maidenhead Mosque, Mr Ahmed said the worshippers were ‘very concerned’

following recent atrocities around the world, including the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.

He said there is ‘no sort of issues locally’ but that security at the mosque has been reviewed and includes CCTV and alarms. Volunteers stood guard during the month of Ramadan, which ended on Tuesday, June 4.

Also at the meeting, community warden Andy Aldridge told the meeting about a problem-solving team which has been tasked with tackling low-level anti-social behaviour and helping the homeless.

As part of this work, the community wardens bought into the national initiative Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM), which has now been running for about six months.

Members of the MEAM team work with statutory and non-statutory agencies.

Mr Aldridge said: “MEAM is about a wrap-around support.

“It’s not just about housing a person, it’s about getting off the street into

accommodation and actually giving them the time.”

He also spoke about the councils ‘support-before-enforce approach’.

He said: “If we’ve covered every support mechanism we can, we’ve got no option but to use positive enforcement, so we will use things like criminal protection

notices.”

If the notices are continually breached, the case will go to court and if there is a conviction a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) would be issued.

This would force the individual to engage with the relevant mental health and drug and alcohol services and if they did not, they could face a prison sentence.

The next One Borough meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 11, at a venue to be confirmed.

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