A petition to stop the closure of a Hindu temple has had more than 10,000 signatures from supporters.

Prashanth Elangovan says the Vel Murugan Temple is under threat of being shut down by Watford Borough Council who have plans to build a sports village on the site, with a deadline of September 17 to vacate.

Mr Elangovan, a spokesperson for the temple and a Conservative council candidate for the Meriden ward, says the temple in the former Owls Bowls Club building in Horseshoe Lane does not have an alternative location and will have to close.

It has been using the property on a Tenancy at Will contract pending the completion of a new lease.

Mr Elangovan says trustees had been trying to extend the current lease as it looked for another place to move to.

In a letter sent from the council to trustees on August 26, it said they have until September 17 to remove goods and chattels for the building and “deliver vacant possession to the council”.

It also threatened to change the locks from that date.

However, Mayor Peter Taylor said it is "political" and they have been trying to work with the Trust.

Mr Elangovan has now set-up a petition calling for the temple to be “saved” - it has received more than 10,000 signatures so far. The group has also received support from Watford MP Dean Russell.

Mr Elangovan said: “This minority Hindu community in Watford needs their temple to practice their faith, worship, congregate and to come to the temple for their festivals, celebrations, and important religious ceremonies that are essential to their everyday lives.

“Closing this temple will severely affect the Local Hindu Community in Watford, who depend on it for their faith and wellbeing especially during these difficult times.”

Mr Russell said: “I fully sympathise with the community which faces being left without a place to worship and practice their faith.

“I reiterate their calls for assistance in finding a suitable and long term alternative. Being able to worship as part of a congregation is incredibly important to people of faith and given the urgency I do hope the matter is resolved as soon as possible.”

However, Mr Taylor felt this has been turned into a “self-serving political campaign by the local Conservative Party”.

He added: “Not surprisingly, they have ignored the facts and the council’s willingness to work with the Trust to find a permanent home for their worship; they have simply tried to grab the headlines.

"Whilst offering no practical help or solution that would be a real test of their commitment to Watford’s Hindu community.”

The temple used to be in Exchange Road but was temporarily moved to its current site in Woodside Playing Fields.

Since the congregation moved to Woodside, it was clear that the former temple site on the ring road would become housing.

Mr Taylor said: “When the Trust moved to the Owls Bowls Club at Woodside in May 2019, it was always on the understanding this was only a temporary solution, allowing them time to find a permanent building for their Temple. 

“We made it absolutely clear that the the Bowls Club is part of the huge Woodside Community Sports Village transformation, which will see outstanding new sports, leisure and community facilities brought to the area for all our residents to benefit from and enjoy.

“For the Watford Conservatives to present this as the council being unsupportive and unhelpful is so far from the truth it is breathtaking. Both councillors and staff have been in regular communication with the Trust, offering every assistance possible so that they can settle somewhere permanently and continue to serve the local Hindu community."

He added: “Whilst the steps taken this week are disheartening, my door is still open. I want to continue to work constructively but won’t be drawn into these political manoeuvers, which frankly are doing a great disservice to our local Hindu community.”