Guildford Edition

Friday 24th September 2010 No: 16003

Surrey’s Newspaper Since 1864
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Proposal for Muslim culture and education centre rejected
AN application to create a Muslim cultural centre in Guildford has been denied because not enough information was provided about how many people would use it and how often. The bid, submitted by Amran Choudhoury, was for a change of use of a building once used as a tyre service centre in Recreation Road, to a Muslim cultural and education centre. He also applied to build a part two-storey, part single-storey side extension to the building. Mr Choudhoury’s agent was not able to confirm whether he would be appealing against the planning officer’s decision. Altogether 50 people wrote letters to the council about the application, 49 of which were objections. Many of those stated that it was nothing to do with the fact that it was for a Muslim facility, and that it was simply the practical issues surrounding it. A petition of 15 signatures was also handed to the council from people living in the Recreation Road area. Among the concerns were inadequate parking at the site and a lack of clarity about the nature of the proposed use. People were also worried about the proposed idea to drive visitors in a minibus, as the applicant had not stated where any minibuses would park. Mr Choudhoury said that the main use of the building would be to hold prayer meetings and for Muslim cultural and language education. “The sole purpose is to enable a better understanding of Muslim culture, language and beliefs,” he said. A spokesman for the Woking Pakistan Muslim Welfare Association, Syed Hussain, said that people regularly come from Guildford to access support services there, which may be because there were not enough support centres for Muslims in Guildford. “Here we have a multi-purpose centre, we provide lots of help with things like housing, and we do have people who come here from Guildford. In Woking we have a place to worship, but I’m not sure about Guildford.” Mr Hussain said be believed an education and cultural centre would be a good thing for the Muslim community in Guildford. “Obviously, it is helpful for any community to learn about religion and culture, and anything that can do that is always going to be helpful,” he said. In his report, the Guildford borough planning officer denying the application stated: “The design and access statement offers only a vague description of the proposed use but does not describe, in detail, how this use would operate and what range of service/facilities would be offered. “No indication has been given as to how many people would attend the cultural and education centre and the times of day the centre would be in use.” He said that the statement also failed to clarity whether the centre would only cater for residents from the nearby area or from outside Guildford. One neighbour living nearby said that the cultural centre simply was not appropriate for the area.

Angry motorist breaks barriers
THE barriers at York Road car park in Guildford were broken last weekend after a disgruntled motorist became fed up of waiting for someone to fix the ticket machines. The incident occurred at about 6.30pm last Saturday. According to a witness, large numbers of people were queuing to pay for their parking but the machines on both the ground floor and the ninth floor were broken and when they were pressing the buttons to ask for help, no one was answering. The witness said that one of the motorists ‘lost his rag’ and broke the barriers so that everyone could drive out. Guildford Borough Council said that they are looking at CCTV footage and may be contacting the police about the incident.

Residents’ concerns over rape
Neighbours criticise police operation
by Melanie Hall
NEIGHBOURS living in the area where a 14–year–old girl was raped in Guildford last week have criticised the police for leaving them in the dark, while the attacker remains at large. Parents have complained over Surrey Police failing to alert them about the attack, and were sending their children to school without realising that a sex attacker was on the loose. The police only put up posters on Thursday, a week after the attack in which the victim was sexually assaulted just off London Road, in Burpham. One resident said that her nearby newsagents had not heard about the incident until the following Tuesday, five days after it happened, with others complaining that the police had been very tight-lipped about what had happened. She said: “As a mother of a girl of the same age who walks home that way everyday, who cannot get over the fact that she probably walked past the victim, I am also very concerned with the lack of information given out. “My local shop keeper had no idea of this crime yesterday (Tuesday).” She said that she had heard rumours over the past year of a skinny young man prowling which have received wide coverage, and five interviews have been given to local broadcast media, and information put out over Twitter to ensure the widest possible coverage. “Posters can only be put up when the information being publicised can be confirmed; the posters are now up. “Obtaining evidence from a 14-year-old victim of a traumatic attack is not something that can be rushed and has to be dealt with sensitively. “We continue to appeal for information from the public directly, in the media and in the social media.” She added: “Other parts of the community, such as local councillors and neighbourhood watch representatives, have been kept informed, and members of the Active Citizen Scheme have received information.” Officers revisited the site on September 23, and spoke to people and passers-by, handing out leaflets in London Road, Burpham, and also put up posters in the area. Although the police said that this type of offence is extremely rare, they have warned that they have not ruled out the fact that this man may strike again until he is caught. Detective Inspector Karen Hughes said: “This was a horrendous experience for the victim and specially trained officers are working with her (and) providing support.” Police cordoned off the scene of the attack off London Road. around Burpham, peeping in windows and snatching at two other young women. She said: “It was very hard to know what was true, whether my child was in potential danger, which she obviously has been in. “What I fear is there is an offender who is getting increasingly more violent. Are we going to see a murder next?” An e-fit has been released of the man, who has been described as white with a tanned complexion, aged in his early 20s, with short and scruffy brown hair and stubble on his chin. The victim was attacked at about 4pm in a small wooded area beside the A3100 London Road, in Burpham, between the junctions with Abbotswood and Weylea Avenue. A Surrey Police spokesman said: “A number of media releases have been provided

Adjournment in murder case
A WOMAN accused of stabbing her husband to death through the heart has had her case adjourned until November 19. Patricia Wakeford, 66, of Effingham, is charged with murdering her partner who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Appearing in court last week, Wakeford spoke only to confirm her name. Her defence counsel, Myles Newport, made a bail application on behalf of his client in a private session of the court. The case was postponed until November 19 for a plea and case management hearing.

The clock on the Guildhall was damaged by vandals. Picture: Darren Pepe.

Town clock struck by vandals
GUILDFORD’S town clock at the Guildhall is chiming at the wrong times after vandals damaged its internal workings. Police believe the culprit climbed up temporary scaffolding on the outside of the building and wound the clock forward. It is now showing the correct time but the chimes have been left out of sync. The clock was last seen showing the right time by a Guildhall custodian at 9pm last Friday (September 17), and the damage is thought to have been caused some time overnight during the weekend or going into the early hours of Monday. A specialist may now be required to repair the damage. Neighbourhood Inspector Tim Shaw, said: “This may have been intended as a harmless prank but it has caused significant damage to the mechanism of the clock. “The High Street area is very busy on a Friday and Saturday night and we are hopeful that even going into the early hours someone may have seen or heard something as they made their way home.” Jen Powell, lead councillor for culture and heritage, said: “We were disappointed to hear about the suspected vandalism to the Guildhall clock last weekend. “The Guildhall clock is an important part of Guildford’s heritage and a well-recognised symbol of the town. The hands are now showing the correct time once again, and the clock will be inspected to check if any damage has been sustained.” Anyone with any information which could help the investigation is asked to contact Surrey Police on 0845 125 2222, quoting reference GD/10/9666. Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be called anonymously and free of charge on 0800 555 111.

Car fire at M25 junction
A CAR caught fire at the Wisley junction of the M25 on Wednesday. The exit slip road at junction 10 of the motorway was closed for just under an hour after a red Vauxhall Vectra caught fire while travelling along the dual carriageway. Surrey Police received numerous reports from motorists who witnessed the fire at approximately 11.30am. Fire engines from Painshill and Woking attended the blaze, along with contractors working for Surrey County Counciloperated Highways Agency.

Parking by hospital staff ‘has become unbearable’
IMMINENT parking charge increases for staff at the Royal Surrey County Hospital have led to concerns about the impact on the surrounding residential roads. Wayne McShane, the chairman of the Park Barn and Westborough Residents’ Association, said there was already a major parking problem in the Park Barn area surrounding the hospital, specifically in the roads to the north. He said: “I’m not happy to hear about this. It’s going to affect this area even more. “There will be even more staff looking for parking. To be honest, in the last year, it’s been the main thing I have had to deal with for residents. “The situation has become unbearable. It’s difficult for people in the local area. We are not happy with the situation.” “The park and ride service does not work and is just about empty. I see it every day when I drive past. Everyone is parking in our estate instead.” Mr McShane said the issue will only be helped when people start having ideas that help to problem-solve and thinks the council’s solutions are not far-reaching enough. He said: “They plan on putting in double yellow lines along Southway, but this is only going to push everything further north. “I would like the hospital to put in a multi-storey car park on their land.” Councillor Fiona White, of the Westborough ward, agreed with Mr McShane that not enough is being done and called it a “displacement issue”. She called for the borough council, the hospital, the university and local residents to sit down together to try and come up with a solution that will work for everyone. She added that she didn’t think there was a cheap or easy answer to the issue. Cllr White said: “It’s a very difficult problem. The whole issue of parking and road use in the area of the hospital and the university really needs to be addressed as one problem rather than two or three problems.” She said: “I can understand why the hospital gives priority to patients’ parking, but residents can’t get in to park near where they live and this creates difficult problems as well.” Cllr White said: “I can see why the residents of Westborough are worried and I don’t think the scheme suggested will solve the problems.” Staff at the Royal Surrey County Hospital face huge increases to the price they have to pay for taking their cars to work. From the beginning of October, workers’ existing parking permits will be void and the new tariffs – with the smallest increase being 360% – will come into effect.