MUSLIMS are appealing for traffic wardens to spare them parking tickets while they pray for an hour on Fridays.

Members of the mosques in Manchester Road and Broad Street want Swindon Council to turn a blind eye to worshippers who park in residents’ spaces.

In the past, there was an unwritten rule that wardens largely ignored illegally parked cars during their sermons.

But in recent months, traffic wardens have been ticketing without restraint.

Coun Derique Montaut (Lab, Central): “At one stage traffic wardens took a softly softly approach.

“But we are now saying everyone should be treated the same. There should be no privileges.”

Mansoor Khan, secretary of the Thamesdown Islamic Association, said: “The parking situation is atrocious.

“We are getting sick and tired of it. People don’t have time to go to a car park and walk, as they are on their lunch break from work.”

Muhammad Ali, a representative of the Marat Shahjalal mosque in Manchester Road, said spaces are empty during Islamic prayer time, as residents are at work anyway.

“A lot of prayer goers are getting tickets every week,” he said.

“It is causing unnecessary arguments. I don’t think it is too much to ask for us to be allowed to park in empty resident parking spaces for one hour.

“People should be facilitated for religious purposes.”

Since the parking attendants started cracking down about three months ago, Mr Ali describes the mood as disheartened.

“We are just looking for harmony,” he said.

He added that he felt the Muslim community was often blamed for illegal parking outside the Mirchi Cash and Carry in Manchester Road, but he puts it down to shoppers.

Coun Junab Ali (Lab, Central) is trying to find a solution to the problem, which may involve securing spaces in a car park nearby.

But any suggestions would need to be agreed by Broadgreen residents, he added.

“At the end of the day we live in one community and we want better inclusion and cohesion,” he said.

“There is one rule for everybody. The law is for all of us.”

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