Stop treating asylum seekers like rubbish, says city leader

A council leader who is one of seven taking the Home Office to court has said people need to be allocated fairly and "not treated like rubbish".

A total of 200 asylum seekers have been placed in the Britannia Hotel building, Wolverhampton...
A total of 200 asylum seekers have been placed in the Britannia Hotel building, Wolverhampton...

Wolverhampton Council leader Ian Brookfield said the authorities across the West Midlands are "happy to help" those who have fled Afghanistan.

But he was critical of the fact two-thirds of authorities who are doing nothing to support the effort and were instead turning "the other cheek" to it.

And he hit out at the "failing policy" which has seen people relocated into the cities through a private company – with no cooperation from the councils.

Councillor Brookfield said: "We’ve always played our role as a city of sanctuary status. More recently people will have seen the horrible pictures from Afghanistan.

“Three or four months ago, when this was first identified, the leaders of the West Midlands pledged we would help 750 people straight away. We recognise the Afghan refugees had worked solidly on our behalf with the British armed forces in the most appalling conditions in the most dangerous place on earth. We are happy to help.

"But what we’ve got with this (dispersal) scheme is somebody throwing a huge load of seeds up in the air, seeing where they land and then let them get on with it Not a scintilla of cooperation with the local authorities, it’s all done through a private company – Serco in the West Midlands.

"They block book hotels, move people in within 24-48 hours with no discussions with local authorities, no finances to help some of the most damaged people we will ever see. It’s not good enough for us. We’ve had people coming in straight from the south coast with no nappies for the kids, no clothes."

Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council, says some authorities have turned the other cheek

The council leader said he, alongside the leaders of Walsall, Dudley, Stoke, Birmingham, Coventry and Sandwell, were taking a stand and saying "enough is enough" over the relocation policy which he said was centred on places known to help out.

He said: "This is a failing policy. It’s a broken system. We’ve taken the rather unusual step of seven authorities – half Labour half Conservative – taking the Home Office and Home Secretary to High Court.

"We’re telling them it should be mandatory across the country – if everybody did just a little bit, this problem would not exist. And we have to say to them, until you fix this the seven authorities will not be accepting any more from the dispersal scheme.

"That’s a hard thing to say but we’ve come to that point – you’ve come to the well too many times and it is dry. We have many issues within our city and across the West Midlands we can’t ignore.

"That is why we are taking them to court. I will update when we know more. But it is something we can’t afford to lose. People need to be allocated fairly and not treated like rubbish. They are not rubbish."

Councillor Wendy Thompson, leader of the Conservative Group in the city, added: "Every year, without fail, there have been hundreds of people that have come into Wolverhampton and over the years we must have settled thousands.

"We have a very good record but there comes a point where we all have said, if it is a dispersal scheme then surely it’s a national one and not simply keeping to certain concentrated areas."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "The UK has a proud history of welcoming and supporting those in need of our protection.

"The Government is committed to doing everything necessary to protect the rights of asylum seekers and provide them with the safe, secure accommodation they deserve.

"We are working closely with our accommodation providers to increase the amount of Dispersed Accommodation available to us.

"We need the support of Local Authorities to do that and we are committed to working with them.”

Most Read

Most Read

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News