After the last ward meeting was postponed by the three Billesley Councillors on 9/06/2011, members from the Birmingham Branch attended the Selly Oak Constituency meeting on 28/06/2011 (Billesley ward is in Selly Oak Constituency).
The Labour MP for Selly Oak Constituency Steve McCabe was absent (he didn't attend the previous Constituency meeting either) so we couldn't ask him about the illegal Mosque. We also couldn't ask the three Billesley Councillors about it as 'issues raised in Birmingham Constituency meetings must pertain to two or more wards'.
However we did learn that 15,000 had been spent on 'social cohesion classes' for the pupils of Billesley and 9,350 had been spent in Branwood ward for a Asian ladies sewing scheme - in contrast Brandwood ward was given 300 for 'X-Mas celebrations'!
We also learned that the next Billesley ward meeting would be held on 12/07/2011 (two weeks time).
Birmingham branch designed a new leaflet with the next ward meeting details and urged residents to attend if they had objections about the illegal mosque. The branch delivered just under 3000 leaflets in two weeks . Hodge Hill candidate David Campion put in a long shift as he could only help for one day, he arrived at 11.00 am and finished at 9.00 pm, he had sandwiches with him and made a trip to meet the organiser to collect more leaflets!
During one session activists of Birmingham British National Party spoke to a middle aged couple who had been beaten by eight Pakistani Muslims. They told us how the ones who attacked them had been selling drugs on their street with cars 'coming and going at all hours'. When the man had shouted at the dealers to stop selling drugs outside his house the result was a beating which left him with scars on his forehead, his wife was also punched in the face and hit over the head...this is how colonisation works.
Billesley Ward Meeting 12th July 2011
The Birmingham branch activists who attended spoke to a few residents outside. Most had never been to a ward meeting before and thanked us for keeping them informed. We had to sign in and got into the hall about three minutes past seven o'clock. The meeting had already started and the Labour Councillor Susan Burfoot was racing through the agenda.
There was approximately fifty residents in attendance. Once the Birmingham Activists had found a seat Cllr Burfoot (Labour) was already on item four of the agenda Notification of Matters of Urgent Local Concern. The activists were pleased to see that 713 Yardley Wood Road (the illegal Mosque) was on the agenda.
Birmingham Organiser Paul Hickman stood up to address the chair (Cllr Burfoot Lab). He stated that the building was denied planning permission in 2008 due to a Covenant. Paul Hickman put on record that legal services had received a petition in 2009 with over a thousand signatures from local residents who were opposed to the Mosque. Paul Hickman stated that there was proof on You Tube that the building was being used as a Mosque and all anyone had to do was put 'Billesley Mosque' in the You Tube search bar. Finally he informed Cllr Burfoot that people are well aware it's being used illegally as a Mosque and has been for the past two years, he asked "when are you going to represent your constituents"?
Cllr Burfoot responded that she was aware of the issues and legal services have sent a letter to the owners of the building with a two week deadline. Constituency manger Dave Rose spoke in detail about the legal implications and stated that the owners had a choice to make. He said they may ignore the Council letter in which case they will receive an injunction. They may respond by saying the building is not being used for religious or education purposes, or they may challenge the Covenant.
Residents were unhappy at being ignored for so long and demanded to know why. The Councillors gave their predictable excuses and looked very uneasy as residents shook their heads and expressed their indignation.
At this point the Constituency Manager answered a question from Black Country Organiser Robert Weale who had been helping the Birmingham branch during the three rounds of leafleting. He asked, if the owners decided to challenge the Covenant - how long would the process take? The answer was two to three months. MR Weale then explained to the Councillors and audience how he has witnessed such processes before. He said how other buildings had been denied permission but then get the descision overturned via an appeal. Robert Weale explained how this had happened all over the West Midlands in places such as Cradley Heath, Walsall and Dudley.
Cllr Susan Burfoot then asked Robert Weale "Do you live in Billesley Sir?" Robert repied he did not, Cllr Burfoot then said "OK thank you" in a rude and sarcastic manner! This did not go down well with residents at all, the audience booed and jeered in disgust. A lady who had spoken earlier against the Mosque said she wasn't asked if she lived in the area when she spoke and that the Councillor was out of order. Cllr Burfoot apologised.
The next ward meeting is on 29/09/2011. The Birmingham branch will be urging residents to attend and may also do (another) petition via table top stall in Billesley. The Birmingham Organiser has taken email addresses from some Billesley residents to keep them informed, he has also recieved text messages and phone calls from residents who pledge their support.
The Birmingham Organiser would like to thank all the activists who helped out and the residents of Billesley for their continued support.