Concerns about the number of asylum seekers being sent to Wigan have prompted a mixed response from the public.
Residents have had their say after Lord Smith, the leader of Wigan Council, criticised the Home Office’s allocation policy which meant that at the end of 2015, there were 739 asylum seekers claiming financial support in the borough.
He called the policy “unfair” when this was compared to other areas, many of which are in the south of the country, had not received any refugees at all according to the figures released by the Government last week.
Lord Smith said: “This government has failed to control asylum seeker numbers or manage the fair dispersal of asylum seekers throughout the country.
“Despite lobbying at Greater Manchester level Wigan, and its neighbouring authorities, has been forced to bear an unfair number of asylum seekers as a consequence of this failing policy.”
In response to his comments, some people raised concerns about the number of men that they say appear to be amongst the asylum seekers in the area.
Andrew Cheetham said: “It’s a joke, the liberal media painted a picture of women and children needing help fleeing war zones, not seen one child or women in Standish but seen countless groups of men walking around, its all they do, walk around all day.
“Why are they not tagged or monitored they are here illegally, these men will soon want jobs and homes, will they integrate with the British way of life?”
While Martyn Addison said: “Let them in then send them up north where all the money is, nice one.”
But many people did jump to the asylum seekers’ defence.
Kate Watson said: “They aren’t illegal. They’re asylum seekers exercising their human rights to claim asylum. Walking around is ‘all they do’ because they have no right to work due to seeking asylum whilst they wait for their refugee application to be processed.
“I’m pretty sure they would love to make themselves more useful in the community. And I’m also certain they would rather be at home than here. But they aren’t necessarily here out of choice.”
Daniel Morris commented: “There are many families with kids being processed through Britannia. Many of them are scared to go out. The people in the hotel still need toys donating because obviously many of the kids take them with them when they move on.”
Lord Smith raised his concerns the day before the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, said people are entitled to fear the impact that the influx of large numbers of migrants could have on their communities.
He said it was “absolutely outrageous” to condemn people who raised such concerns as racist.
In an interview with Parliament’s The House magazine, he said that the scale of the migrant crisis meant such anxieties were entirely reasonable.
“Fear is a valid emotion at a time of such colossal crisis. This is one of the greatest movements of people in human history. And to be anxious about that is very reasonable,” he said. “There is a tendency to say ‘Those people are racist’, which is just outrageous, absolutely outrageous.”