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Staffordshire Labour members condemn Government plan to cut asylum accommodation

Staffordshire's Labour Party members have strongly condemned the Government's plan to cut asylum accommodation without providing alternatives.

A view of Stafford Court on Beaconside in Stafford. Photo: Google Street Map

In an open letter, Labour members from Staffordshire called out the Government's approach to housing asylum seekers and how it affects local councils. They say that they believe the Government and local MPs are not being honest with the public about these issues.

The letter says: "The latest snap announcement also affects Afghan and Ukrainian refugees who came here via legal routes at the invitation of the UK government.

"We believe this is a simplistic response motivated by political headline-grabbing rather than any desire to solve a complex problem affecting our communities. The Conservatives have trashed our immigration system. The asylum backlog is more than eleven times higher than in 2010: This is why the Conservative government started using hotels.

"Staffordshire Tory MPs Gavin Williamson – sacked minister and Commons bully – and Theo Clarke – who voted to reduce local council funding – are the latest to jump on this bandwagon. They proclaim victory out of making families homeless, with social media posts laughably implying they had any influence over the latest Home Office flip-flop. This is a desperate attempt to stoke fear in the hope of accruing a few more votes as their popularity plummets."

It continues: "Afghans who worked for the British Army and found their lives threatened by the Taliban were promised safety here in 2021. Over 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s invasion in 2022 were offered sanctuary in the UK, only for broken promises to cause placements to break down. Over 5,000 families became homeless due to these failures. Now, more vulnerable people face being turned out on the streets in Winter thanks to Tory mismanagement, just as the Home Secretary tries to ban the homeless using tents in a display of mind-boggling cruelty. When people end up on the streets, it is local councils who are responsible for housing them. This announcement therefore only puts more pressure on local authorities without having a meaningful impact on the larger issues of migration and housing."

The letter goes on: "The Local Government Association highlights Westminster’s failure to provide councils with material support to deal with the collapsing immigration system and homelessness. Instead of fixing a broken system, the Tories have spent the last thirteen years farming out central government issues like this to local councils starved of cash by austerity and government incompetence.

"We believe that Tory 'culture wars' have no relevance to the material issues faced by voters during the cost-of-living crisis. It is local councils and communities who pay the price, left poorer and more divided, by people with no constructive ideas spewing mindless prejudice. Stafford Tory Councillors recently squandered more than £50,000 in taxpayers’ money on a doomed fight with their own government over the asylum reception centre on Beaconside. As a result, the Borough Council now has much less to spend on offsetting the pressure this development will put on local services.

"Only the Labour Party can fix systems the Tories have defunded and devalued over the last thirteen years. We have seen this with the huge progress made since May by Stafford Borough Council’s now-Labour led administration. Only Labour offers long-term solutions to voters’ genuine concerns. Labour will:

  • Clear the asylum backlog, eliminating the need for hotel use

  • Review the use of highly paid contractors in the asylum and housing systems

  • Neutralise the smuggling gangs with cross-border policing

  • Be honest with the public about the scale of problems, bringing humanity and competence in place of chaos, fear and dog-whistle politics

"We the undersigned say, “no more,” and “not in our name”. But most of all, we promise there is another way."

The letter was signed by:

Adrian Hamlyn – Treasurer of Kingswinford & South Staffordshire Constituency Labour Party, Chair of South Staffordshire Labour Branch

Adrian Holmes – Treasurer of Stone, Great Wyrley & Penkridge CLP and Stone Labour Branch

Angela Loughran – Chair of Stafford Labour Group

Anil Singh – Chair of Kingswinford & South Staffordshire CLP

Ant Reid – Labour Cllr for Coton Ward, Chair of Stafford & Stone Co-operative Party

Barbara Sigley – Disability Officer for Stone, Great Wyrley & Penkridge CLP

Bill Lockwood – Chair of Stone Labour Branch

Bob Jones – Retired teacher and member of Stone, Great Wyrley & Penkridge CLP

Chris Fewtrell – Communications & Media Officer for Stone, Great Wyrley & Penkridge CLP

Helen Lockwood – Vice-Chair of Stone Labour Women’s Forum

Jacqueline Brown – Labour Cllr for Silverdale Ward, Advisor to the Stone Labour Women’s Forum

Janet Sivorn – Vice-Chair of Stone, Great Wyrley & Penkridge CLP

Jeff Love – Secretary of Stafford CLP

Jim Livesey – Secretary of Stone, Great Wyrley & Penkridge CLP and Stone Labour Branch

Julie Read – Chair of Stafford CLP

Kathryn Williams – Secretary of Stone, Great Wyrley & Penkridge CLP, Women & Equalities Officer for Stone Labour Branch

Nathan Evans – Vice-Chair of Stafford CLP

Richard Sidley – Member of Stone Labour Branch

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