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Councillor calms row with synagogue over ""provocative"" mosaic plans

PUBLISHED: 16:36 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:41 05 October 2010

By Ted Jeory A TOWER HAMLETS councillor has guaranteed that a Jewish synagogue will be consulted over the design of a mosaic he is planning to place on the pavement outside two religious buildings. Abdal Ullah moved last night to allay concerns within

By Ted Jeory

A TOWER HAMLETS councillor has guaranteed that a Jewish synagogue will be consulted over the design of a mosaic he is planning to place on the pavement outside two religious buildings.

Abdal Ullah moved last night to allay concerns within the Jewish community over the mosaic which is being proposed for the area at front of the Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue and the rear of the East London Mosque in Whitechapel.

Papers leaked to the Advertiser had said "local elders' groups" would be consulted about the design, but when we asked the council's press office for an assurance the synagogue would be included in that process, the Town Hall refused to give it.

That prompted fears among Jewish faith leaders that the mosaic would be Islamic in character and a deliberate attempt to deter worshippers from going to the synagogue.

The lack of council promises also heightened concerns that the planned mosaic was part of a wider strategy of pressurising the synagogue into selling its historic building to neighbours at the mosque.

However, the East London Mosque strongly denied that was the case yesterday.

And that assurance was followed last night by an emphatic guarantee from Cllr Ullah.

In response to a question from Tory leader Peter Golds on the matter, he said: "Of course everyone in that area will of course be consulted.

"I can reassure people that will be the case."

He said the mosaic would form part of a "wonderful space" he is planning for Fieldgate Street, where people could sit and think in a "peaceful and quiet" environment.

Other features earmarked for the £50,000 scheme include widening the pavement and new trees and benches.

Cllr Golds said he was happy with the assurance.

No one from the synagogue was available for comment today because they were marking Yom Kippur, the most solemn and important Jewish holiday.

Built in 1899, the tiny Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue, right next door to the huge East London Mosque, is one of the most iconic symbols of the changing East End.

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