Most Llanelli Standard readers will probably now be fully aware of the proposal by the UK Government to use the Stradey Park Hotel as emergency accommodation for 200 asylum seekers, in family groups, from early July.
Tory Ministers are currently scrabbling around the UK looking for more hotel accommodation, solely because of their monumental failure to process the backlog of asylum seeker applications. Their arrogance when it comes to the Stradey Park Hotel plan, in failing to consult surrounding communities properly, rejecting sensible, more suitable alternatives and running roughshod over local opinion has been truly and utterly breathtaking.
Here in Llanelli, we have proudly played our part down the years in supporting those who have fled war and persecution elsewhere in pursuit of sanctuary. It is imperative that in the weeks and months ahead we strive to continue to promote those values of understanding, compassion and respect that we all hold dear.
However, this particular proposal is unworkable on a practical basis, puts extra pressure on local services and creates a situation problematic for nearby residents and for the asylum seekers themselves. Along with local Labour councillors, our Senedd Member Lee Waters and many others, I will continue to oppose this plan vigorously for those reasons.
We are jointly campaigning against this scheme and have offered our support to the Furnace Action Committee set up by local residents, encouraging people to sign their petition. I have been out and about extensively in the locality and also visited the hotel itself to speak with concerned staff fearful that their jobs are under threat as a result.
In Parliament, I have quizzed the Immigration Minister and Home Secretary directly and I raised the situation at Prime Minister’s Questions too, calling for the proposal to be dropped. Lee and I met briefly with Home Office officials to seek answers to questions that local people are asking, without success, and I am currently awaiting a detailed response from Clearsprings (the intermediary company who will manage the accommodation) as well. I have paid visits to both the Essex office and the Mayfair office of the Hotel’s owners but sadly, if not unpredictably, I was met with silence and obfuscation.
Along with my colleagues at local government and Senedd level, I will continue to apply as much pressure as I possibly can on those who will be involved in making the final decision, to try and stop this going ahead.
This has all been caused by a Tory UK Government who has let the asylum system, like so many other public services, fall into complete chaos. What we really need is a comprehensive response which includes going after people smugglers, a new cross-border police force, more agreements with countries to send people back and the creation of proper safe routes for legitimate refugees. The answer is to reduce the backlog of 170,000 undetermined claims constructively and quickly, not to offload responsibility to others.
This is a fast moving situation and I will do my best to keep local residents informed of any further developments, as and when they happen.