It’s come to this. A guy in the Stockport suburb of Manchester, England, lives for years next door to a take-out sandwich shop. New owners take over the business three years ago and replace the exhaust fan over their grill. Now the neighbor decides he doesn’t like the smell. He complains to the town’s environmental services department which makes repeated visits and finds no violation.
But Mr. Graham Webb-Lee is not to be deterred. He complains to the town council that the new owners failed to get a planning permit when they replaced the exhaust fan. The council tells the shop owners that since an objection has been raised they must apply for a retroactive planning permit. The item is placed on the agenda for the October 14 meeting:
A retrospective Planning application (DC044716) for the retention of extraction vent to front of shop at 159 Adswood Road, Cale Green - recommendation grant.Uh-oh! It looks like the council is set to approve the shop’s retroactive permit. So what does Webb-Lee do? He shows up at the meeting with a litany of complaints: the shop’s odor makes his clothes smell bad, his daughter has an eating disorder [?!], and
“The vent is 12 inches from my front door. Every morning the smell of bacon comes through and makes me physically sick.”Perhaps feeling that he isn’t making sufficient headway with the council members, he decides to play his ace:
“I have a lot of Muslim friends. They refuse to visit me anymore because they can’t stand the smell of bacon.”That’s all the politically correct members of the Central Stockport Area Council Committee need to hear. Offend Muslim olfactory sensibilities? No way. They vote to force the cafe owner to remove the exhaust fan.
The owner is outraged—and baffled. She and her husband are Turkish; her husband is Muslim. The presence of cooking bacon doesn’t seem to be a problem for their Muslim friends who visit the shop all the time and even eat there.
This is a truly remarkable case of Nasal NIMBYism: it takes self-centered whining about food smells to a whole new level. Graham Webb-Lee actually plays the Islamic intolerance card against a pair of tolerant Muslims and wins. Beverley Akciecek and her husband Cetin support their seven kids by working in a sandwich shop 50 hours a week. They do so in part by cooking bacon for bacon-eaters. Now their livelihood is threatened by a smell-o-phobic douchebag and his cringing enablers on the town council.
Take a few minutes and browse the Stockport town website. It’s like Berkeley on the moors. Be sure to check out the 2009 annual Diversity and Equality Report. You’ll find that 40% of Council employees “have attended bespoke Diversity Awareness or Managing Inclusion training,” and that the town celebrates diversity, holds anti-bullying conferences, and observes Black History Month, Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Month.
That leaves a lot of space on the official Stockport calendar. How about designating Support for Immigrant Entrepreneurs Month? Or Defending Western Liberal Traditions Against Creeping Dhimmitude Month?
That might be too much to ask from this crowd.