Emotive case was well dealt with
ALEADING objector to the proposed Muslim centre in Ashford declared himself as a member of the British National Party at a meeting to discuss the application. Ray Dawkins freely admitted his membership of the far right group when he was allowed to speak at an Ashford council planning meeting. When his speech descended into a tirade against Islam and Sharia Law, committee chairman Jane Marriott told him to stick to planning issues. Mr Dawkins has since insisted that he opposed the centre as a resident and not as a member of the BNP or under its direction. Either way, this clouds the issues of the merits or demerits of this centre. But as part of a bigger picture it shows worrying fault lines in race relations. Excessive political correctness can be destructive to race relations and it is important that issues of race and religion are discussed maturely. This is something Muslim centre applicant Shafi Khan obviously agrees with, to the extent that he hopes the centre will steer young people in his community from radicalisation. Credit is due to the planning committee members who showed a mature attitude and stuck to the planning issues in what was clearly a highly emotive case.