‘Pandemonium’ takes over meeting about Muslim Apex Primary School expansion

Mohammed Asif (Chair of Muslim Fed), Cllr Maravala, Cllr Shoaib Patel, Headteacher Meherun Hamid, Pa

Mohammed Asif (Chair of Muslim Fed), Cllr Maravala, Cllr Shoaib Patel, Headteacher Meherun Hamid, Parents Dr S Mariam, Dr Zulekha Modak and Shahin Surti and Children from the school - Credit: Archant

A council meeting descended into “pandemonium” over the proposed expansion of a Muslim primary school. Eventually the microphones were switched off.

The controversy was over allowing an additional 64 places at Apex Primary School in Argyle Road, Ilford.

The meeting of the regional planning committee south was aborted on Monday with the chairman saying he felt “intimidated”. More than 100 members of the public attended.

They were upset that debate was not allowed on the issue and that it was referred to another meeting.

Mohammed Asif, chairman of the Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations, said: “It exploded. The chair would not allow any discussion and said it was going straight to a vote.

“All other schools have been allowed to increase. We feel we are being victimised.”

The meeting, held at South Park Primary School, Water Lane, Seven Kings was chaired by Cllr Bert Jones.

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He said: “As the application had received significant media interest locally and nationally and the ombudsman and local MP have been involved, I put it to the vote.

“The crowd got into such a frenzy that I felt that I could not continue the meeting.

“It was very hostile and intimidating. The fact that it’s a Muslim school has nothing to do with it.”

One of the councillors who said the matter should not be referred to another meeting and should be decided there and then was Cllr Filly Maravala, who has been on the committee for almost two decades.

He said: “All hell broke loose. It was absolute pandemonium. I have never seen anything like it.

“We have given 12 schools hundreds of places to expand each.

“How does this make sense? Are we judging planning applications by the media now?”

The matter was referred to the regulatory planning meeting by five votes to four.