I became aware of the Home Office’s plan to house a significant number of asylum seekers in Blackpool a couple weeks ago. I have extremely strong reservations about this decision, especially in the heart of Blackpool. I have spent the past two weeks expressing these concerns robustly to ministers and I will continue to do so.
Many of you will already be aware of my feelings on illegal immigration, in particular the volume of migrants crossing the channel to enter the UK. Unfortunately, the level of illegal immigration is completely out of control and unacceptable. Although I believe the measures introduced in the Government’s new Immigration & Asylum Bill will provide the foundations on which we can take back control of our borders, this is still a way off from being implemented and ministers must do more to stop those who have no right to be in UK from entering this country illegally.
I fear that the burden of housing these asylum seekers has fallen disproportionately on northern towns like Blackpool whose public services are already stretched by high levels of deprivation and the impact of Covid-19. The introduction of 220 people with complex needs into Blackpool is of great concern, especially without proper risk assessments in place. I also believe using the Metropole hotel, in the heart of Blackpool’s tourism area, is unsuitable for such a large number of vulnerable people, especially during the illuminations.
Sadly, the Home Office has not provided sufficient consultation and is not taking residents views into account. I am aware that the decision has come about despite opposition from myself, the Council and the Police. We have been left in the dark on several important questions including where these people came from and how long they will require temporary accommodation, important questions that need answering.
In the meantime, I will continue to make it clear to ministers that this decision is disproportionate and damaging for Blackpool.