This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Anger at centre Ramadan plans
Neighbours are opposing plans by a community centre to extend its opening hours during a religious festival.
Knighton Community and Education Centre, in Leicester, wants to open its doors to patrons until midnight – and for a second, 20-minute period between 1am to 4am – during the month of Ramadhan.
The Islamic centre, which opened on the corner of Welford Road and Keble Road two years ago, is only allowed to open from 6am to 11pm.
Its leaders have applied to Leicester City Council to vary these times between July 17 and August 22 to accommodate the festival, during which devout followers are expected to fast during daylight hours.
Some residents are against the proposals, citing problems last year when the centre flouted its opening time restrictions without authorisation from the council.
Neighbours complained about noise as late as 3.30am.
Maria Moran, 49, of Keble Road, who kept a log of incidents last year, said: "It's the noise we object to – and the fact the centre ignored planning regulations. There were speakers blaring out from the centre and groups standing in the street outside talking well into the early hours.
"There are about 30 homes in the street and a number of families and elderly people residents.
"With all the noise, including traffic coming and going from the centre, it was impossible to sleep.
"If the centre ignored regulations last year, what guarantee is there that they will abide by these varied opening hours?"
Welford Road resident Elvina Tiar, 56, who lives opposite, said: "Neighbours have a right to peace and quiet, especially at night time."
In a letter supporting the planning application, Fayyaz Suleman, agent for the centre [and Vice-Chair of Leicester Council of Faiths], said the issues of last year would not be repeated.
He said: "There is a clear commitment from the centre management to maintain a peaceful, disturbance-free use of the centre at all times."
He said he hoped that no disturbance will be caused to the residents.
Councillors Elly Cutkelvin and Bill Shelton have organised meetings in the past 12 months to build bridges between residents and the centre. The council is set to make a decision in the next few weeks.