Mayor calls for ‘better balance of immigrants’

Tony Lloyd
Tony Lloyd
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IS there is a disproportionate number of asylum seekers living in Wigan?

That is the question being asked after it was revealed there are more than 5,000 staying in Greater Manchester, hundreds of them in Wigan.

The need to give asylum is well established but what is unfair is the incompetence of central government in the way they’ve placed asylum seekers in this country so that some areas are receiving significant numbers

Tony Lloyd

Last week it emerged that 700 are being temporarily housed in flats in Scholes and rooms at the Britannia Hotel in Standish. But the figure for the North West is more than six times the number of refugees living in London.

Now Tony Lloyd, interim Mayor for Greater Manchester is calling on the Government to place asylum seekers more evenly across the country and reconsider its procedures in dispersing immigrants who have crossed the borders.

Home Office figures show 5,143 were placed in Greater Manchester in the first quarter of the year compared to just 823 in London.

The Home Office said people seeking aid were housed “where there is available and appropriate accommodation.”

Mr Lloyd said: “The need to give asylum is well established but what is unfair is the incompetence of central government in the way they’ve placed asylum seekers in this country so that some areas are receiving significant numbers. Those numbers put pressure on local schools, local health resources. It’s not the asylum seekers’ fault, but the fault of the Home Office’s spectacular inability to manage this process in a way that’s fair. The process of dispersal should be one that recognises proper capacity.”

The Home Office said: “Agreements between the government and local authorities are voluntary and have been in place since 2000. We review this regularly, working closely with local authorities to ensure that the impact of asylum dispersals are considered and acted upon. This includes monitoring existing arrangements and the impact on local services and community cohesion.”

Mr Lloyd’s comments follow a peaceful protest outside Britannia Hotel, in Almond Brook Road, last week, as far the right group British Voice expressed anger at refugees staying there.

But Mick Taylor, co-ordinator for SWAP (Support for Wigan’s Arrivals Project), who oversee asylum seekers as they arrive in the borough said: “Negative views are often strongly held when people are struggling financially or worried about keeping their jobs, but I believe there’s much bigger issues at stake in our society than relatively small numbers of people trying to seek asylum in other countries.”