04:00PM, Friday 28 June 2019
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the Advertiser has revealed the correspondence between the council and Maidenhead Mosque and the Ivy Leaf club.
The Advertiser submitted the FOI after a video emerged of council leader Simon Dudley giving a speech and promising mosque worshippers that it could expand onto land used by the Ivy Leaf Club next door, in Holmanleaze, amid the upcoming St Cloud Way area regeneration.
The speech – given a week before May’s local elections – has been roundly criticised because the Ivy Leaf was not planning on giving up its lease to the council, and still has 27 years left to run on it.
The social club had been in negotiations to move but no suitable site was found, and the club had told the Advertiser he had made a promise to the mosque that ‘he cannot deliver… for him to get votes’.
Correspondence shows an email from a Maidenhead Mosque address to RBWM Property Company’s managing director Barbara Richardson and council executive director Russell O’Keefe.
The redacted emailer wrote on Wednesday, April 24: “Simon assured us that he will request you and your lawyers to draft a ROFR (right of first refusal) agreement between Islamic Trust Maidenhead and RBWM, this document needs to be finalised by Friday 26th April when Simon addresses our community about the St Cloud’s redevelopment and more importantly the adjoining Ivy Leaf site.”
Mr O’Keefe replied the next day – Thursday, April 25 – with an attached a draft options agreement.
Cllr Dudley has maintained he gave the speech to promise the mosque that it would not be surrounded by high-rise buildings as the area around it is redeveloped. The mosque would like more space for its worshippers.
Correspondence with the Ivy Leaf does not appear to continue past August last year.
Emails between the mosque and council in November show that the Royal Borough said the club was ‘insistent’ it remains put unless an alternative site can be found.
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