SEIT have been exploring ways to provide the community with a place where the young and old from all backgrounds can come together to support each other and to learn about Islam and provide facilities for social and multi-cultural activities and a meeting place. It is primarily a place for the Muslim community to get together and of course there will be worship and facilities to learn Islam, but we want to foster multi-cultural contacts and understanding and make it a place where anyone can walk in and be part of the activities.

Having a cultural centre would meet these wider needs. The charity will be funding it through donations and we will need to gain planning permission from the Council. However, there are no plans to change the outside of the building but just to make internal alterations, and deal with its really bad disrepair. This will be a costly and lengthy exercise and we would not foresee the building being open to the public for some time. We then plan to hold an open day where all members of the community are invited and will be welcomed. This will be an opportunity to find out exactly what the Cultural centre is all about and can offer and hopefully people will want to be part of it.

We have seen positive responses and some negative response from the community on Facebook and the comments printed in the evening echo. We feel that the negative comments have been based on assumptions and lack of understanding about our plans. It is disturbing to read some of the things that have been said which go way beyond fair comment and it is unfortunate that a petition that has been set up against there being a mosque, without people giving us a fair hearing. We can't imagine there being a petition against an application for a church and if there was, we Muslims would not be signing it. We realise that people can be fearful of change or prejudiced against other religions but we are sensible, reasonable people who just want to get on with our neighbours who will find they have nothing to fear. We would also point out that we bought this building under fair and open competition after it was publicly advertised for sale on the open market.

We very much hope Basildon Council and the wider community will be supportive of our plans.