Further to my blog of 9 April an email I sent to contacts in Lambeth initiated a discussion between Councillor Steve Morgan and myself, then Morgan and Diamond Way, and then Diamond Way and myself. Diamond Way has agreed the following statement – I have highlighted the key points in red.
Diamond Way Buddhist centres function through voluntary work on the basis of friendship and idealism; community is important to us. As lay people, Diamond Way Buddhists come from every walk of life and are a very diverse group from many different countries and cultures. More than 15 countries are represented currently in the London Centre. They include all age groups and careers – with cleaners, doctors, cooks, scientists, artists and students all represented. We also have a significant number of parents and families in the groups and so are very mindful of children’s needs.
The Buddha’s teachings are themselves non-political, and as such Diamond Way Buddhism is also a totally non-political organization; it does not hold any views on political parties or other religions. As individuals however, Buddhists are like any others engaged within their communities and act independently on issues they find important. They support different football clubs and vote independently in elections. Whoever comes to a Diamond Way Buddhist centre is welcome no matter what their personal background, ethnicity or sexuality, or views are as long as they have good social behaviour and of course respect all laws and local regulations and the right of others to adhere to other branches of Buddhism and other religions.
Matt Huddleston, a Trustee of Diamond Way says: ‘the text can be circulated anywhere it may be beneficial. Please do include the website www.buddhism-london.org’.
The following message (13 April) to DWP from Camden Council’s Senior Policy Officer (Social Cohesion) states: ‘As the Council officer who leads for Camden Council on its work with faith communities I would like to thank you for the way in which Diamond Way has contributed to the Camden Faith Leaders Forum. Since the Council set it up two years ago to address how faith, community and public sector organisations can cooperate in areas affecting the civic life of the borough and facilitate improved levels of cohesion Diamond Way has modelled an outward looking and engaged ethos which we have found encouraging and helpful. A good example of this is your willingness to join the Camden LGBT Advice and Safety Project. I know that this involvement has built on the Diamond Ways history of providing free mediation classes to Camden's community since 1998 but the relationship we have built over the last two years has certainly been of value to us.’
For me both these statements closes the issue of concerns over DWP UK based on the alleged views of DWP’s international ‘leader’. It appears that much of the criticism is circulated by non-DWP Buddhists elsewhere in London – part of a spat within the fractured Buddhist movement not dissimilar to those in other religions. As far as the ‘leader’ is concerned he seems to be more of ‘a missionary’ and apparently has no role in the governance of DWB in the UK.
You can see the Annual Report and Accounts for DWP for the years ending 31 March 2007-2011 on the Charity Commission website. . In the year 2009-10 they changed Solicitors to the much respected charity law specialists Russell Cooke LLP, who are also RCDT’s Solicitors, and advisers to organisations like London Voluntary Service Council. See www.russell-cooke.co.uk/service-detail.cfm?id=1
In relation to the planning application no one would oppose one from an Anglican Church because a particular Bishop expresses certain views people find objectionable; nor a Roman Catholic one because of some of that Church’s views.
I remain against the deal between DWB and the Council because it is not the Artisan School proposal I have been involved with through Lady Margaret Hall Settlement from 2003 until recently. I still think that the Artisan School idea linked to the Settlement’s Kennington Quarter cultural industries strategy will do more for local people, especially re-skills training and jobs, than what is now proposed for the whole of the Beaufoy site.
There may be legitimate concerns about the details of the planning application. But objections can only be valid on planning grounds. The application details can be seen on the Lambeth Council Planning database http://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=M1HNZABO08Q00
If the planning application is rejected then the sale of the Beaufoy does not go through. The Council’s Corporate Committee in its capacity as Trustees of the Beaufoy will have to re-think what to do next.
If the Bellway application (http://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do;jsessionid=524182DD3D8F363479EA9FC4ACB81F62?action=weeklyList) on the rest of the site is not approved then the sale by the Council will also put things back to square one.
The consultation closing date for both applications is this Thursday 19 April.