ANGRY protesters had to be escorted from a planning meeting by security staff as it descended into chaos after plans for a mosque were approved.
Councillors sitting on the planning committee had to leave the room while campaigners against the application were led out.
Protesters storm out of the planning meeting. Audio edited for language.
Protesters advanced angrily on committee members and shouted abuse, while one person was seen to knock over a chair as they stormed out of the meeting.
One protester also appeared to throw money at the councillors before the meeting was temporarily halted and order restored.
Plans for the mosque, submitted by Taiyabah Islamic Centre, which will be built on land just off Canning Street, near Blackburn Road, were approved by committee members by 13 votes to 6.
The application, which includes provision for the mosque, complete with a dome, minaret tower and 19 classrooms, had prompted protests by objectors in the lead-up to the meeting.
They argued the building would create traffic issues in Blackburn Road. They also questioned the need for another mosque in Bolton.
Before proceedings began, officers informed members that the council had received petitions including one of 4,867 signatures against the plans and one with 3,308 in favour.
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The committee, which was sitting in front of about 200 people in the town hall’s Festival Hall, heard from those both for and against the plans.
Objector Bryn Morgan described it as “too large and too ostentatious”.
He added: “This building will be an eyesore and is completely out of character with the local buildings.
“This will make the area look more like Istanbul than Bolton — I urge the committee to consider the points and opinions of local people.”
Speaking in favour of the plans, Crompton councillor Sufrana Bashir-Ismail insisted the application is not for an additional building but to replace the mosque currently on the site.
She added: “The current users of the mosque will be the same users as they are now — there is not going to be an increase in the congregation and the majority of users walk to the mosque.
“The individual objectors don’t seem to understand what a community facility is about.”
During the debate, several committee members registered their concerns about potential traffic and parking issues.
Newly elected UKIP councillor Paul Richardson said: “We have been told 55 per cent of people will walk to the mosque so we can reasonably assume the other 45 per cent will drive.”
He called for a more detailed traffic study.
Cllr John Walsh asked for any decision to be deferred.
He added: “Blackburn Road is already one of the most over-trafficked roads in Bolton and this could exacerbate existing problems.
“We shouldn’t be considering it in its current form, we should defer and properly examine the existing and potential traffic problems.”
But Cllr Nick Peel said: “I would side with what Cllr Walsh said if this was for an additional facility — but it’s not, it is replacing an existing facility and covering the same demand as the old one.
“I think we can all agree this building will be distinctive — it will stand out and be a landmark.
“I don’t think it is the responsibility of one particular tenant to address traffic problems in the area.”
There was also a heated exchange outside the town hall between protesters both for and against the mosque but there is not believed to have been any violence.
In a statement, those behind the mosque said they were “extremely happy” with the decision.
The statement added: “It is important for people to learn and understand about how mosques function as well as how the diverse communities in Bolton live, work and worship.”