UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge has spoken to Breitbart London of the despair felt by Dudley residents at the Labour council preparing to “sell democracy” to the Dudley Muslim Association (DMA). The reaction follows the DMA’s offer to the town of £325,000 to drop legal objections to the construction of a so-called ‘Mega Mosque’.
The legal wrangling over the construction of the mosque has lasted almost a decade, with the DMA presently fighting a compulsory purchase order on the land owned by the group issued with the backing of Dudley’s opposition councillors. The order would prevent them from going ahead with construction. This is a situation that the Labour group which controls the council, is seeking to end.
Local newspaper The Express & Star reports the Labour Council leader’s claim he is seeking the best value for money for ratepayers by considering the offer, but UKIP MEP Etheridge says the move is nothing more than “selling democracy” to the highest bidder. Speaking to Breitbart London, the local-born representative said:
“The UKIP group on the council is dead set against this. We have been trying to propose a compromise agreement on the Dudley mosque, where there would be a local referendum – this is one of UKIP’s principal policies on this, where local people get to have their say on contentious planning issues.
“This appears to be no less than the Labour group on the council selling democracy…. this is immoral in my opinion. The people of Dudley don’t want it, there was an 80,000 person petition against this development. Everyone knows that the actual people of Dudley are against it.”
Etheridge told Breibart that Labour is trying to take the matter out of the hands of the full council, where the proposition to accept the money would certainly be defeated, and instead only have the council cabinet vote on it. In Dudley the town cabinet comprises just seven men – all Labour councillors. He said:
“The rest of us are watching in horror as they prepare to pass this measure. There’s nothing we can do except witness this. It’s counter-democratic”.
Remarking that issues over the planning dispute had now gone well beyond mere discussions of whether Dudley should get a mega mosque and had moved on to basic principles over how a council should conduct itself and the democratic system, Etheridge said he was deeply concerned the move could erode public trust:
“The worrying thing about this is, we’ve had marches by extremist groups in Dudley over this, and Labour pushing this through is just going to send a signal to them to come and do this again. In the past I’ve pleaded with people, don’t take the law into your own hands, trust the democratic process and allow your councillors to fight this in the chamber.
“By neutering the democratic process, people are losing faith in the council, they believe the non-Labour councillors who represent them are no longer able to defend them. This is what happens when you hijack the democratic process, other forces come into play”.
Dudley council cabinet will discuss the proposal, without their colleagues from other parties, at a meeting next Thursday.