A joint statement from the leader of the Council and chief executive

Published Monday 22 March 2021 at 18:43

Today we have written a full response to the issues raised in the letter about public protection activity with regards to mosques. A copy of the letter is here. It responds to each issue and concern raised in detail.

Our absolute priority has always been keeping people safe and doing what we can to get the virus under control. To achieve this, we have been committed to working proactively with all faiths to promote the safest possible environment within which people can find solace in worship and pray safely.

Clearly it’s been a difficult year that has placed huge demands on all of us to work together to stop the transmission of COVID and to keep our nearest and dearest family, friends and colleagues safe. We have sadly seen many people infected who have fallen seriously ill and many have died. It has been a particularly notable tragedy that many elders have died as a result of COVID. In some instances we have seen people lose both parents within days of each other, in other instances loss of multiple generations from within the same household. In Blackburn with Darwen hundreds of people have died as a result of COVID.  Many thousands have been infected and impacted directly within their households.

The Muslim community has worked very closely with us on all sorts of fronts, including the COVID secure operation of places of worship during the first and subsequent lockdowns. We are on record thanking and celebrating the work of our communities regularly. Once again, we want to thank the community for their collective efforts in tackling this virus which has had such a terrible impact on us all.

We have gone to great lengths to work with Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM), Blackburn Muslim Burial Society (BMBS) and broadly with the Interfaith Forum. Our specific work with Mosques has been through LCM. This has ensured LCM have been consulted on procedures and policy throughout, this has meant regular weekly meetings and further consultation as required.

Our public protection team has a duty to respond to any intelligence it receives and always does so in an open and transparent way. The audits were in response to concerns raised from the Muslim community. We did the audits in the spirit of cooperation, helping faith settings to comply with advice and guidance and ensuring their congregations can worship safely. We make no apologies for that work.

The council has had a good track record of working with Mosques and we have not needed to undertake any enforcement or to serve public health direction. Where Mosques have closed for a deep clean and reset they have done that voluntarily.

It is disappointing to receive such a letter. But our firm commitment is to continue to work with all Mosques.

We are so close now to getting back to some semblance of normality and we all must keep on track. No-one wants to continue with legal restrictions for any longer than is necessary.

We all want to get back to the things we took for granted a year ago. It goes without saying though, if we can’t get the virus under control, there is a chance of further lockdowns. I know the community will be concerned about the prospects of another lockdown as we approach Ramadan. A month that is all about fasting, prayer, community, charity and consideration of others. Therefore it is vitally important that we work together to make it the safest Ramadan possible. Hopefully by the time of next year’s Ramadan, we will have one as back to normal as possible.


Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council

Denise Park, Chief Executive of Blackburn with Darwen Council



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