Harlow Labour issue statement on Home Office plans to house up to 400 asylum seekers in new housing complex
News / Tue 14th Mar 2023 at 08:42am
THE Harlow Labour Group has issued a response to the news that the Home Office has been considering using new properties in Wych Elm to house close to 400 asylum seekers.
Harlow Labour statement is as follows: “Since 2018 unprocessed asylum claims have risen from 24,000 to a massive 161,000. These people are stuck in limbo due to the failures of Robert Halfon and his Conservative Government. Now only 10% of asylum claims are processed within 6 months in contrast to 80% in 2014, this despite a five-fold increase in the number of claims-processing staff.
Labour would end the use of unsuitable accommodation to house asylum cases by speeding up the processing of asylum applications and setting up a new task force to crack down on criminal smuggling gangs.
Harlow is a welcoming town and we have always been a community which does what it can to support people in need. However, the Labour Party has concerns about proposals by the Conservative government to house 400 asylum seekers in Wych Elm without adequate support.
Harlow Labour would love to see this new development occupied by local residents but it will not pander to the whipping up of anti-immigrant sentiment to achieve that goal.
The letter written by Harlows MP acknowledges the NHS is under intolerable pressure. Schools are struggling to cope, roads are falling apart, social care is all but non-existent, GP surgeries are at breaking point, crime is rising and our long-promised replacement for Princess Alexandra Hospital is still nothing more than a pipe dream. Harlow Labour disagrees with none of those assertions; it’s spoken about them many times. All of the issues identified are the responsibility of Robert Halfon and 13 years of his Conservative Government, not of asylum seekers.
For those wondering why there was a short period of silence before Harlow Labour responded it’s simply that the signatories to the letter had knowledge of the situation a week before we did. We took time to give a considered response rather than the knee-jerk reactions seen elsewhere. We think an issue of this nature warrants a serious cross-party conversation before any public statement is made. The Conservatives thought differently and decided to play partisan politics instead.
The next Harlow Labour administration pledges not to play political games with people’s lives but to properly consult with other parties before issuing statements on matters of such importance.
Harlow Labour Group
The sheer incompetence of this Tory government is exposed by the Institute for Government. The Tories much trumpeted increase in asylum case handlers is deliberately misleading. Despite a 62% increase in caseworkers from 2011/12 to 2021/22, decision making rates have decreased by the same amount. In December 2022, there were 1,237 caseworkers who made an average of 4 asylum decisions per month per staff member, compared to 380 caseworkers with a productivity rate of 13.7 decisions in 2011/12. The reason for this disastrous lack of output is explained by: a lack of technical specialist staff to support caseworkers; inadequate training for asylum interviews; poor morale and high turnover of decision makers; the removal in 2019 of an official service standard, to decide 98% of ‘straightforward cases’ within six months. The asylum system is broken because the Tories couldn't care enough to make it work. To cover their backs they use refugees to stir social division knowing full well it will be used by the far-right. See Institute for Government statement: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/article/explainer/asylum-backlog
Harlow Labour, taking a week to produce a statement replete with ambiguity and waffle is hardly likely to assuage the very real concerns of many Harlow residents with regards to this matter. The contrast with the determined and forthright response from both the Council and our MP could not be starker.
Reading between the lines, Labour doesn't have a problem with people who aren't actually refugees but illegal immigrants being housed in Wych Elm, it's that they may not have adequate support, that is, access to state benefits to which they haven't paid a penny in contribution to.
Cllr Leppard, 1.Who exactly is proposing that Wych Elm is use to house asylum seekers? Answer - The Conservative Government. 2. Why is this even having to be considered as an option. Answer - because the Asylum System is broken. 3. Who has had responsibility for the Asylum system for the last 13 Years? Answer - the Conservative Government. 4. If you had really wanted a cross party approach why didn't your party have the courtesy to speak to Labour Councillors prior to sending the letter from the Leader of the Council, Mp, Police Commissioner and Essex County Council to the Immigration Minister. Answer - Arguably because you're playing cynical Games! So, stop trying to deflect blame, and instead accept some responsibility, show some leadership and work constructively to address what could potentially be an extremely divisive issue for our town.
So in plain talk. "Labour couldn't care less that 400 people will be housed in new builds. Placing additional strain on already over stretched public services"
Happy to confirm as one of the local Labour councillors for the ward we collectively oppose the proposal that the new luxury homes should not be designated for this purpose. The ward currently struggles with primary care provision. I’m not sure the owners would want to be associated with this option as it would destroy over night their marketing plan. It’s very sad that yet again we’re having this type of debate due to the complete and utter failure of the Tory government,supported by the local MP. I can confirm as one of the local councillors I was never approached by the Tories to support their political driven letter. The Tories could call an emergency council meeting but they won’t as they know who is to blame. Let’s not forget this is owned by the Tories and any spin or dance will not distract us from the truth. We need a national solution and making cheap pathetic and idiotic political points makes everyone look stupid.
Ha ha ha . How (ironically) (and sadly) Funny.. that this Conservative local govt ...is somehow trying to blame Labour...or if they had the chance..Harlow Alliance Party or the Green Party for the massive " flip " up they have made...blllurr.. .over the last 2 years the conservatives have lost all creditably, in this town and lost my vote.( Sorry Matt Saggers)
Alex has said it all and it makes sense!
"We took time to give a considered response rather than the knee-jerk reactions seen elsewhere." Perhaps you could let your audience know where this "considered response" can be read.
Woo, let me get this straight.. Senior Conservatives and the recently appointed Chief Exec of Harlow Council were aware, but kept it secret from from opposition Ward Councillors and Harlow residents that this fiasco had been thrown at our town by our Conservative Govt.. This hush up was an obvious job of damage limitation..SHOCKING
Withstanding my comments above, I am grateful that the signatures have taken prompt action to sort out this mess and note that they are aware of the dire straits our town is in due to the vast no of developments being thrown up without any supporting infrastructure or increased job opportunities...
Well said Neil.
Why don’t councillors labour or conservative just stop the silly arguing and actually agree and sort out are town start getting houses for Harlow people stop all this out of town rehousing in are community get on to getting local police on the beat again and actually see police around the town and have a actual police response when a crime is reported and not we haven’t got anyone available then we might stop crime in the town and not having criminals having a free for all
[…] YourHarlow’s Letter to the Editor section) and the Harlow Labour Group, whose response was published via YourHarlow, showed how heated the debate had become (not to mention the comment section both within the online […]