Friday, 7 June 2013

Swastika Painted on Door of Bank Chambers

A swastika was daubed on the front door of the old Bank Chambers in Green Lane on Tuesday (5th June). The symbol which was painted backwards, was spotted and reported by several people and was painted over within hours, leaving a large green square on the door of the building.

The incident occurred only a day after a Mosque was burned down in North London and the police are treating the criminal damage as a 'racially motivated' hate crime.

As most readers will know, this vandalism comes in the wake of a new planning application currently lodged with the Council to convert the old Bank Chambers into a Mosque. The previous application was turned down unanimously by the Development Control Committee after Council officers recommended it be rejected due to the increased traffic and car parking issues it would bring to the area.

While there is once again strong opposition to this latest application, most people are still concerned about the increased traffic and car parking problems that such a development would bring. The applicant has claimed that worshippers will not be allowed to use their cars but as there is no way this can be enforced, many people feel this is a claim with no substance as worshippers can choose to use their cars regardless.

Unfortunately the applicants haven’t done themselves any favours in the trustworthy department as they continued to use the building as a Mosque without planning permission - requiring a Planning Enforcement Notice to be served on them. They also originally denied planning to turn the building into a mosque after they first purchased it, even though they had a website at the time calling for 'Muslims locally and internationally to donate generously towards building the House of Allah' in Worcester Park. The website was taken offline within hours of being contacted by this blog.

However while these things may be legitimate reasons to deny a planning application, they are not excuses for hate crime.

Regrettably a minority of comments of a more racist nature have also been made which many people find offensive. These make it more difficult to keep the focus solely on the planning issues and also make it easier for others to claim that everyone who opposes the development is a racist.

This blog and undoubtedly the vast majority of people in Worcester Park are appalled by the racist behavior shown by a few people and particularly this attack. The recent terrible events in Woolwich have seen a rise in racist attacks even though Muslims and Imams across the country have denounced the perpetrators as evil and not having anything to do with Islam. There is no need or cause for such attacks and we don’t want to see similar behaviour here in Worcester Park.

The Metropolitan Police will not tolerate any hate crime against anyone and this is being investigated robustly. They would like to speak to anyone with any information and ask people to call 101 or email Sergeant Ashley Bennetts at ashley.bennetts@met.police.uk. You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Sergeant Bennetts has spoken to the owners and the two gentlemen currently staying in the premises. They are happy with police actions and appreciate the implications of the incident but are satisfied it was just a local idiot and are not particularly concerned about any further incidents. They are happy that the local Safer Neighbourhood Team pass their building regularly and believe that most people in Worcester Park would find such hate crime as unacceptable.