Members of the British National Party are planning to demonstrate at the site of a former church which pre-application plans suggested could house a new mosque.
Dacorum Borough Council has confirmed no formal applications for the Muslim house of worship on the former Nash Mills Methodist Church site off Barnacres Road have been submitted. But the BNP’s secretary for the eastern region Chris Livingstone has announced the protest will be taking place on Saturday, May 10.
A spokesman for the council said no applications are even expected to be submitted at this time.
The initial unofficial proposals were accidentally published by the council’s website back in August. The leaked plans sparked a petition opposing any future plans for a mosque on the site. It was set up by Nash Mills resident Toni-Marie Picton, 21, last year, and has gathered almost 1,000 signatures.
Mr Livingstone said: “We listened to the concerns of Hemel locals and have seen the 1,000 signatures on the petition. We seem to be the only party listening to the concerns of these local people.
“The concerns raised to us seem to be a lack of parking the noise and pollution, however a domed mosque in this location would be extremely inappropriate. The British National Party will oppose this all the way. We have spoken with the police to ensure a peaceful protest on our behalf, and we do not anticipate any trouble.”
Petition organiser Ms Picton said she will not be taking part in the party-political demonstration. She said: “The desired end result is the same, but the BNP has a completely different motive. My main issue with having a mosque here is the parking, it’s already very difficult along Barnacres. This is completely the wrong place for it.”
Police say they are aware of the event, which will also be countered by the Unite Against Fascism group.
The counter-demonstration organiser Tom Berry said: “We do not have a view on any application for a mosque but there is a history, particularly in Hemel, with the BNP and formerly National Front having reared their ugly heads, and have usually been sent packing. They are using what could be a perfectly proper and democratic application by a group of people to spread racial hatred, division and anxiety.”