Gurdwara land strip is set to become part of community asset as residents' petition prompts change of heart by council

By Neil Speight

19th May 2024 | Local News

The Grays Gurdwara
The Grays Gurdwara

MEMBERS of Thurrock's Sikh community have celebrated a change of heart by Thurrock Council which has now scrapped a plan to auction off a strip of land adjacent to the Gurdwara temple and community hall on Maidstone Road in Grays.

The land is used as a car park also as an access to the facilities at the Gurdwara and it was feared that access might be impaired, or even lost, if the strip of land was sold by auction as part of the cash-strapped council's fire-sale of assets to reduce its debt.

A petition with more than 1,000 signatures was presented to full council in February, by Mr Jasvinder Jassel, chair of the Grays Gurdwara, which said: "Request to sell small piece of Land, title number: EX798887, at Market rate to Grays Gurdwara, Sikh Temple - We the undersigned, Sikh community, members of other faiths, and residents of Thurrock, request the Thurrock Borough Council to sell the above land at market rate to Grays Gurdwara for community usage and not to commercial buyer.

"We undertake to use this space for community purposes only."

Mr Jassel also spoke to the council meeting about the importance to the Gurdwara and its use by the local community.

Cllr Ben Maney, portfolio holder for regeneration, responded to Mr Jassel by saying: "Obviously the council does have a legal obligation to seek best value of any asset or land it seeks to dispose of.

"There are other interested parties and we have to be open to their needs too. It's important we don't leave the council open to a challenge later.

"I know you have requested be listed as an asset of community value, we will get a decision to you in due course."

A decision has now been delivered and Mr Jassel and the community have expressed their gratitude after it was decided to make the land a community asset, meaning the Gurdwara will have the first option to purchase it

Conservative councillor Qaisar Abbas, who played a role in the creation of the petition, welcomed the news and said: "We always stand by our communities and welcome this decision.

Jasvinder Jassel and Gurdip Singh Dhillon with Cllr Qaisar Abbas (centre)

"The Sikh community was struggling in carrying their funeral carts into their community hall due to parking issues at this site. This decision will reassure the Sikh community that their voice is heard and they are valued."

Council leader Cllr Andrew Jefferies added: "It is really important that the council consults on key decisions with our communities to ensure we make the right decision."

Grays Riverside ward councillor Val Morris-Cook said: "We have engaged with the Gurdwara on this issue and we are very pleased with bthe outcome, it's the right thing to do. I an look forward to strengthening our relationship with the Gurdwara, the Sikh and other communities that use the facility in the months to come."

The vital strip of land.

Mr Jassel and Mr Gurdip Singh Dhillon, president of Grays Gurdwara, issued a joint statement saying: "We thank Thurrock Council for listing this site as an asset of community value. The Sikh community has contributed positively in Thurrock for many decades, and we are very grateful for this listing."

     

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