A SENIOR Labour councillor has accused Bolton Council of failing to inform her properly about an anti-mosque protest in her ward.
Crompton councillor and cabinet member Sufrana Bashir-Ismail claims council officers told members of the community and the Taiyabah Islamic Centre of the location of the demonstration and closure of Canning Street before telling her.
The protest attracted hundreds of protestors from across the country, who were met by an opposing demonstration led by Bolton Trades Union Council, Bolton Against Racism and members of the nearby community.
It sparked a massive police operation, which saw Blackburn Road closed for more than an hour and two people arrested.
Cllr Ismail told The Bolton News that councillors were invited to a meeting the Wednesday before the demonstration, the day after officers from the police and council met with community leaders and mosque members.
When asked where the protest would be held — which was the result of negotiations between the North West infidels and police — she says officers refused to tell them.
At a second meeting on Thursday involving all parties, Cllr Ismail says she was only told the final location of the protest and road closures by a member of the mosque.
She said: “The protest took place on public land, not on mosque land, and so the consultation should have taken place with the ward councillors.
“People were bussed into a residential area and given police protection while they were there, on an issue that will have no impact on them whatsoever.
“I support anyone’s right to demonstrate, but I don’t support council officers and police officers consulting with individuals who are not elected members, then informing elected members after consultation.
“In eight years of being a councillor I have never known a situation like it.”
It is understood the final details of the planned protest were provided at Thursday’s meeting of police, council officers, councillors and members of the community, and that no objections were raised.
Cllr Ismail said she would formally complain to Bolton Council about the issue.
A council spokesman denied that Crompton councillors had not been properly informed about the demonstration.
He said: “We are confident that the way we engaged with all stakeholders, including ward councillors, was appropriate and in line with how these issues have been dealt with in previous protests.
“Our approach was as a result of working closely with the police and had the support of the leadership of the council.”
Supt Andrea Jones said that police had to deal with “dynamic circumstances” before and during the protest, which meant changing strategy and closing Blackburn Road at short notice.