A THREAT to a burn down a building if it was converted into a mosque in Chipping Norton has been condemned by town councillors.

Plans to convert a former chiropodist in Hitchman’s Mews, off West Street, into a Muslim place of worship were approved by planners at West Oxfordshire District Council earlier this month.

But after the shop’s landlord, George Wissinter, received a telephone call from someone threatening to burn the shop down if it went ahead, applicant Tahirul Hasan was told he had to find a new venue.

Mayor Martin Jarrett said he was appalled. “The result of this intimidation is putting Chipping Norton in a very bad light,” he said at Monday night’s (18) town council meeting. As a town council we must not condone this action that’s going on.”

Councillor Jo Graves said: “It’s a matter for the police. I’m extremely sad.”

Councillor Rob Evans, ward member for Chipping Norton on West Oxfordshire District Council, said he thought the use of the word mosque may have given people the wrong impression of what was being planned.

“I completely understand George Wissinter’s decision,” he said. “I think we should really be referring to this as a prayer room. We’re not talking about minarets and calls to prayer. We would have needed quite separate planning permission.

“I hope the Bangladeshi community will succeed in other premises and won’t be deterred.”