12:00PM, Thursday 15 September 2016
Councillors have been criticised by Boulters Lock residents over a proposal to build a Hindu community centre at the car park in Lower Cookham Road.
About 40 people opposing the plans met on Tuesday evening to discuss their options, including a rival bid to prevent the site becoming a community centre, and to voice frustration at councillors.
One resident had received a letter dated Wednesday, September 7, from Cllr Jack Rankin (Con, Castle Without), the lead member for economic development and property. It revealed RBWM had agreed, subject to contract, to grant a 125-year lease to the Hindu Society for £73,000 back on May 16.
Group spokesman Mick Jarvis, of Boulters Lane, criticised the council for not revealing this earlier. He said it disadvantaged residents’ attempt to organise an alternate bid before the deadline of Wednesday, October 5.
Mr Jarvis said: “The feelings of residents towards the council are between disappointment and anger.”
Mr Jarvis stressed residents were not opposed to the centre on the grounds of ‘xenophobia’, and were more concerned about parking.
He said: “It would not matter if it was being built by Jehovah’s Witnesses or the local parish church or a working men’s club – it should not be built in a residential area.”
The group, which has not formally organised, will meet again before the October deadline.
Council leader and ward member Simon Dudley said the council welcomed other bids and would only consider a community centre when deciding who to lease the site to.
He said: “We want to build a community centre that can be used, in this case, by all our residents.
“I will be clear here – I will not tolerate people who say ‘if you want a Hindu community centre, go to Slough’. That is not the kind of society we are trying to build in the Royal Borough.”
The Hindu Society has not yet submitted its proposals for planning approval.
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